I am writing this post under the assumption that you are visiting the Microbial Mood exhibition and have scanned the QR code provided in order to gain more information. However, in case you are an online visitor only, I have included the pictures and videos here.
I originally started brewing kombucha as an analog to the gut-skin connection. It also has probiotic and prebiotic qualities. I placed it here as a reminder that when using any kind of antibiotic treatment, it is important to repopulate the gut with good bacteria, and this would likely remain true even if using a sound frequency as an antibiotic.
Here I have created a proposed experiment laid out in a rudimentary form, testing the effects of two different sound exposures on two different petri dishes (the third is a control). The growth medium is made of beef stock and gelatin, and the bacterial samples are taken from my own cheek swabs. I chose the Indian classical music based on findings relating to sound exposure in the form of music that I previously wrote about. The ultrasound was chosen based on my own research. If the experiment goes as I hypothesize, the bacteria in the music dish will proliferate and those in the ultrasound dish will struggle to thrive. I am showing this experiment in order to bring the research to light and suggest further experimentation. I have a theory that music could be used to treat gut disorders, and perhaps even improve mental health, as an alternative and/or in addition to probiotics. Alternatively, I wonder if high-frequency noise could be used as an alternative to antibiotics? I do not currently have the facilities or resources currently to test that theory, which is why I say that this display is a proposal, or suggestion, rather than an official experiment.
The first video is of SEM images of SCOBY material that I cultivated with a kombucha brew. I chose to show the SCOBY being destroyed by the electron beam as a way of suggesting the possibly destructive effect of the high-frequency ultrasound, as is shown in the background. The video of the ultrasound bath shows how ultrasound can force styrene and potassium permanganate to react. The video is set to Raag Kirwani, the same Indian classical music as is played for one experimental petri dish. The whirring sound heard in between parts of the film is the sound of bacteria swimming, as synthesized by scientists.
The second video is of petri dishes made from various natural dyes and homemade growth mediums, all populated with samples from my own microbiome. It zooms in to show SEM images of from a microbiome sample, showing what potentially could be seen on the dish at a microscopic level.
All of this is to provide a more immersive experience of what the bacteria are experiencing in the other room.
I had no idea at the beginning of this process that I would end up creating a sound and video installation, and the project has definitely moved me outside my artistic comfort zone. Since the time I started writing this blog I would have to say my idea of what an art/science exhibition can be like has broadened. I am pleased with the results, and I sincerely hope that you, viewer, have found it both enjoyable and educational.