Monday, February 21, 2011

Infective Textiles at Laboratory Life, Brighton

A couple of days ago I headed down to Brighton to join Laboratory Life at Lighthouse. This art-science set of collaborations has drawn together members of both art and science communities to work on some really amazing projects. I am working with Anna Dumitriu on a project called Infective Textiles. We're going to try and use bacteria to colour and pattern fabric and then, as its Brighton, create a Regency dress. We spent yesterday getting to know each other in the team - there's Anna, Brian, Sarah, Rosie and me - and getting together some ideas of how the project might work. Today we went on several field trips to source some bits and pieces. Our first port of call was to the hospital microbiology labs to pick up some of the more scientific bits of kit - a microscope, some agar plates, bins for disposing of the bacterial waste at the end. Then we popped into ASDA for the less scientific things - plastic boxes, salt, spring water etc. And finally we drove a little way down the coast to Widewater Lagoon and Nature Reserve where the water is a little brackish and there are some good sulphur eating bacteria in the mud. There were also a lot of swans ( and rabbit droppings!) but we had a fun time in the freezing cold splashing about in our wellies! Back at Lighthouse Oron Catts gave a short talk about tissue culture histories and there was an interesting debate afterwards about using living organisms in art (and science) pieces. Thought it was nearly tea time after all that we did get a moment to make up some of (Dr Simon) Park's Kitchen agar - from agar (from the Chinese supermarket), marmite, honey and pea protein powder (it was supposed to be skimmed milk powder but somehow we lost that on the way back from the supermarket!!). Tea was had at the basketmakers.

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