Bacterium/Homo 2-18, Phase 2
Upon my arrival in New Zealand, after stating on my customs card that I had recently been in a forest, my shoes were taken from my suitcase and cleaned by airport personnel. This direct connection-- shoes as a receptacle for the transfer of potentially harmful matter-- along with my personal state of temporary displacement set the concept and the duration of the piece.
Each day I mapped where I traveled and swabbed a bacterial sample from the soles of my shoes. These samples were brought back to the studio and cultured on clear acrylic panels, coated with a nutrient agar medium. The microscopic bacteria began to colonize, becoming visible to the unaided eye. Within days the panels were covered with patterns and colors of different types of bacteria.
The living panels were installed at Whitecliffe College, hung overhead on a suspended grid. I placed the panels on the grid in relation to their distance and orientation from the school (the site of the installation) marked in the room as an "x" on the floor. The amount of growth determined the chronology of my time in New Zealand: the denser the growth, the earlier the visit. Spotlights above each panel cast shadows of the bacterial growth down onto the floor and onto the audience. The shadows touched the viewers in a non-tangible way-- similar to how microorganisms exist on our bodies.
Special thanks to Michelle Whitecliffe, Noel Ivanoff, and the Whitecliffe College of Art and Design.