If we look close enough, we are part of an alternative playground dominated by thriving microbial communities. My interests lie in communicating our enormous potential to engage ourselves with the microbial world, highlighting possible levels of interactions, and create tangibility from the world that are mostly invisible.
I imagined a portable, domesticated farm where common, microscopic garden animals called rotifers could be reared and harnessed with our control – in a way similar to how traditional farms for animals such as cows and pigs are operated – albeit on a different scale.
Rotifers are small, mostly freshwater animals, and are amongst the smallest members of the Metazoa: about 0.5 mm in length or less. Their bodies have a total of around a thousand cells.
Bio-sensing Unit: Farm within a Farm?
Rotifers can be genetically modified to produce green fluorescence – a common visual marker of genetic alteration. This unit is designed to use genetically modified rotifers to detect trace levels of chemicals in the water, such as toxins, hormones, precious metals as well as other smaller microbes. The idea is to program these rotifers to glow when small levels of target particles are found in the water system. By hacking the biology of rotifers, the concept of what may constitute a ‘farm’ has been scaled down even further, whereby the body of the animal itself becomes a farm, or a factory to produce valuable phenotypes.
Glowing signals produced by rotifers can be quantified to produce a series of data which can inform nanoscale changes in our environment, some of which may not be picked up by current electronic sensors. The high sensitivity of biosensors mean that the data picked up can be used to create forecasts, or ‘early warnings’, to predict further changes that may occur.
Featured: - Final Graduate Show 2012, Royal College of Art, London, UK - Press Review NOTCOT - Radio Interview, Resonance FM - Science Uncovered event, Natural History Museum, London, UK - TW Bioart Exhibition, The Incubator, Taiwan. - Cynetart 2013, Festspielhaus, Dresden, Germany - Forced Landing: Into the Unknown, Helsinki Design Week 2015 Special Thanks: Dr Sasha Mikheyev, Ecology and Evolution Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan