Arts Workshop: Microbes as Material

Lancaster University

ANDFest were our main partners and co organisers in one of a series of workshops to develop a network of  artists interested  in the biomedical and bioscience area. We invited artists who wanted to explore the theory and practice of microbiological processes. This was a unique opportunity for 8 UK artists to experience hands-on work in the microbiology research labs during a two day workshop. The workshop was produced in partnership with the Insight research group, Live@LICA and Abandon Normal Devices, and funded by The Society for General Microbiology.

The aim of the workshop was to bring artists and scientists together as equal partners with a view to developing new hybrid projects and proposals in the arts and to explore the idea of the science lab as an artists studio. We  explored several themes; Linguistic communication and social intelligence of bacteria; selective growth and killing; performativity in the microbiology research lab. We were keen to explore how artists and scientists understand the materials they work with through practical actions and conceptual framing of the scientific process.

The workshop will took place over two days in the BLS microbiology labs and in the Peter Scott gallery at Live@LICA at Lancaster Universty. The format involved hands-on ‘wetlab’ sessions learning basic microscopy, bacterial manipulation, how to count microbes, methods for investigating quorum sensing and antibiotic resistance detection. We will be examined the haptic skills of the microbiologist and the performance of aseptic technique.  Part of the second day was spent transposing some of the ideas and techniques from the lab space into our gallery space where we finished with a discussion about the nature of art-science collaborations.

Members are actively seeking collaborations with artists to further enhance their own practice and provide topics for future joint funded microbiology or biomedical themed projects.

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