Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bacterial Landscapes: Furthering Materials Development

It's been some time since Thesis 2010 where I delved into bacterial driven material reuse for futures with a rare occurrence of virgin goods. Bacteria material science has since come a long way. While during my research I came upon various species being chameleon-like in their color replication as they grew, now that same logic has been pushed further into man-malleability with this: 

It is a 'living' neon sign composed of millions of glowing bacteria. Researchers at Hasty Lab UC San Diego say “This development illustrates how basic, quantitative knowledge of cellular circuitry can be applied to the new discipline of synthetic biology." Potential architectural applications are exciting - the introduction of functionality without material failure at connection locations. I.e. take a prison (one of my favorite academic programs) where durability and air-tightness in function is necessary, but where advanced warning systems could decrease guard response time and increase their safety and security. Displays and lighting could be integrated directly into neon-capable-engineered-bacteria integrated concretes and other building materials. Exciting seeing the beginning of real-world applications after seeing growing amount of research unfold.

See the video of the synchronized bacteria in action here:

Synchronization is courtesy of bacteria's embedded ad-hoc network style of communicating known as "quorum sensing," aided by gas signals targeted at large colonies of cells to insure no delay in the 'flashing.' The right direction in mitigating the hierarchy of man-made commands with boids' stochastic mode of communicating in nature? I think so. 

Couple it with this experiment:

Image courtesy of

Vast and Undetectable aims to employ bacteria's photosynthesis detection and mimicking to produce answers to our biggest question about the known, and unknown universe though their closer-to-life-origin composition atop rotating images gathered via the Hubble Telescope. The most complex questions can be answered with the simplest solutions, right?

I do have to admit my own experiments yielded great aesthetic similarity to the cosmos:

Out for now. Working on t-shirts instead of architecture, naturally. 


  1. Loved this quote on the SFAC Gallery description of Vast and Undetectable: "The artists in Vast and Undetectable are creating work that runs the gamut from the most microscopic existence to the vastest reaches of space and time. They are creating objects, and forms of order to articulate these spaces and the shapes they might take. Through the use of photography, video and installation, the work engages matter within these unfathomable spaces as both source material and subject matter."