bacterial body textile print 2010/11

cartography of the human body

This project explores skin bacteria on the human body and the bacteria absorbed in a specific area of Vienna on November 11, 2010.

Over a period of eight months, the skin bacteria of one specific day were collected, analyzed and recorded. The bacteria were bred, partially re-animated and kept alive at -70 °C. In the framework of an interaction study, experiments were performed to study the bacteria’s hierarchies. Weak bacteria were applied first to the body to guarantee their unhindered growth and to achieve the colours desired on the bacteria image. The natural invisible film of bacteria on the protagonist’s skin was removed and then replaced by the layer of bacteria under study by taking risks with a specially developed technique. After applying the invisible bacteria colour to the body, the body was imprinted on the textile and agar, the nutritious substance for encouraging bacteria to grow. As soon as the bacteria grew visible, their growth was stopped and the current status was recorded with a body print. 

Every visible point on the chemical-living bacteria image has specific significance and represents a thought process or experiment. Bäumel and Schopf create an image of a real invisible moment, seeking to highlight the existing, invisible and living entanglement surrounding all of us.
Sonja Bäumel
Erich Schopf