Friday, October 21, 2011

Working with Live Painting Materials

In this collaboration between artist and scientist we have enlisted a natural organism, E. coli bacteria,  to  generate images that resemble paintings or prints, but that have a unique set of patterns that could not be generated using non living materials. We hoped that by letting nature generate its own patterns we would trigger the interest of the eye and the visual brain, which has evolved to pay attention to the irregular patterns generated by natural growing objects. 

This blog documents our many adventures.  Above are two prints pulled from the same petri dish. (Simply click on any image to see it in greater detail.) Please visit our website to see a gallery of current work, and leave us your comments... we'd love to hear your impressions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Imagine Science Film Festival - now!

We are honored to be among the roster of Artists in Residence at this year's Imagine Science Film Festival.  Thanks to Thomas Jackson and Alexis Gambis for bringing us in! Check out the line up  and get your tickets... festival ends Oct 21.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Time to paint some petri dishes....

Had a great day painting at Katayoun Chamanay's lab with her summer Parsons/New School students.  We worked with 2 strains of bacteria -- E. coli and Serratia marcenscens (aka "Blood of Christ"!). Here are a few resulting prints -- head below the jump to see us making these, and all the terrific comments by the students/artists. Thanks guys!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Of Painting and Pencillin - Studio 360

Kristin and I find ourselves in fine company this weekend in a radio piece that features our art-making process alongside that of Alexander Flemming. Who knew he made paintings with bacteria too?! Now, if only we could stumble upon a world health solution while we are noodling with our drawings... (thankfully Kristin is working on that in more traditional ways).

Click through to Studio 360 here, where you can hear the piece, or go here to see the whole piece bundled with a video where you can watch me botch a print, and see a little slide show of our last working session.  Our goal was to translate some of the "lab" science into the "home" lab, so i can work a bit more independently and bother fewer busy scientists.

Huge thanks go to Lindsay Patterson, the intrepid producer who sought us out,  to the folks at Studio 360, and to our friend Katayoun Chamanay for loaning us some key supplies.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think of the story.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

(sorta) Big in Japan

Toshihiko Katsuda, a reporter for the ASAHI Shimbun, visited us at the Museum of Arts and Design during the World Science Festival.  He took lots of photos and asked great questions.We just received this PDF of the story he published, entitled "Artistic E. Coli".   I was delighted... or at least, I thought maybe I could be? An unusual situation.  I replied, "Looks great! ... but uh, What does it say??"  He humored me. For the translation, read below. Thank you Toshi!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amoeba to Zebra July 1 - July 25

Very happy to have a chance to reinstall, anew, "The many (still) lives of E. coli" -- a set of our prints at the 440 Gallery (440 6th Ave in Park Slope, at 9th Street).  Many thanks to Gail and Todd (he is pictured here) for helping me get it on the wall!  And thanks to Ylva Rouse for selecting this piece for the show.

Come out and enjoy the opening, Thursday July 1 from 6-9!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Day at the Museum of Arts and Design

Here are fabulous students from Ms. Shu's class at the Juan Morel Campos school printing and painting designs to E. coli!  They began by printing to paper the many images I'd already cultivated on stacks of petri dishes. (I'm demo-ing this above). Then they turned their attention to making their own original designs, applying the clear solutions of E. coli to the agar plates we'd prepared. After the prints dried, they sealed and mounted these in clean petri dishes; 2 students created a sculpture from the mounted prints. Lots more great photos below the jump!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Take a Look at the World Science Festival Blog

Molly Webster, the tireless producer of our Bio-Art program at the Museum of Arts and Design, has learned an awful lot about what goes into creating prints from cultured, hand-painted genetically-engineered blue E. coli bacteria.  It's been great to read how someone with a bit more artistic-remove describes our work -- check our her two posts from our festival week here. 

Thank you so much for all your help and spirited words Molly! Stay tuned for pictures of finished work soon to come...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Join Us at the World Science Festival!

Once again, we will be offering an educational program at the World Science Festival. Come see us on
Thursday, June 3, 2010, 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Museum of Arts and Design

Ms. Emily Shu's art students from the Juan Morel Campos High School will be learning about microbiology as they spend the afternoon painting their own designs in bacteria, and printing other designs cultivated the day before by Amy. Throughout the program, the public is invited to visit the Museum's Open Studio, to observe the printing and painting process.
Participation by invitation only; public welcome to observe. Free with admission to the Museum of Arts and Design.
Special thanks to Katayoun Chamany, Associate Professor at Eugene Lang College, for providing lab space and support!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hudson River Museum - Talk & Workshop

Had a wonderful time working with the Yonkers-area teachers that attended my talk/workshop at the Hudson River Museum yesterday.

Since painting with bacteria requires 12-18 hours in an incubator to see the designs emerge, I instead asked teachers to experiment with 5 "mystery" materials to create opportunities to discover the properties of these liquids, much as i had to do as an artist, working with living bacteria.

When mixed in certain combinations, participants found that these mystery materials created surprising effects. Their task was to discover those effects, identify the materials, and use them to create works of art.

Thank you to Saralinda Lichtblau for inviting me up to share our work!

Monday, June 15, 2009

World Science Festival Street - What Grows?

Thank you to everyone who visited our tent at the World Science Festival Street Fair on Sunday -- and a special thanks to the 200+ artists who contributed drawings (or written ideas) to our Impressions of Growing collective art project. We will be very VERY busy in the lab growing your ideas in e. coli over the summer! Check back (or subscribe to our blog) for updates on our progress... and our plans to share this work with you. See more photos from the festival below...
*Annie, Lissa & Ivory... our deepest thanks, we couldn't have done it without you! 

Printing Day at the Harlem DNA Lab

photo by joey o'laughlin

Success! After 18 hours in the incubator, our bacteria designs emerged in a beautiful range of blues and effects. The students/scientists/artists had mixed both transformed and normal bacteria together to create subtle combinations of blue and white designs... and many strong blue images were grown and printed today. Bravo!  See how it all came together after the jump...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Harlem DNA Lab - World Science Festival

As part of the World Science Festival's outreach events, we introduced our living paint to 9th graders from the Thurgood Marshall Academy. Thanks to our host, Ileana Rios and the Harlem DNA Lab (a project of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) students learned how to perform a genetic transformation of e.coli bacteria (each making their own version of our "paint") and everyone made 8-10 bacterial paintings. We can't wait to see how the images grow -- all will be revealed on Friday when we return to print our work! Check back for updates.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Talk at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share the story of our collaboration with my arts-education colleagues at the April 21st "Inspiration is the Destination" conference at the Brooklyn Museum. A few photos from the slide-talk, thanks Emily Shu!

Ecoli -- natural variations on a theme

This is a favorite piece from the show. A self portrait of our media.

Installation Images from Serrano Contemporary

Our show is down -- but here are some photos in case you missed it. Above is the installation of 30 E. coli prints mounted in glass petri dishes. Close up below. Click on any photograph for a larger view.

Artist & Scientist

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Upcoming Exhibition - Growing Impressions

My scientist collaborator, Kristin Baldwin, and I have the opportunity to exhibit this work at Serrano Contemporary in NYC from Feb 19 - March 18. Invitation below. Come on by!

Work from Jan 09 -- growing and printed

An image in bacteria, growing on agar -- and then printed onto paper

Translating Bacteria Prints to Cyanotypes

Very excited about learning this old fashioned photographic process - using the sun to make contact prints from a "negative".

I've selected some of the bacterial prints, which are typically small on 2, 4 or 6 inch circles... and enlarged these onto transparency material using a photocopier. Then... waiting for a strong sunny day to printed these onto paper i've sensitized. The one above happens to be very dark... others come out much lighter, depending on the strength of the sun and length of exposure time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fern Shadow, Ecoli in Process

This is one of the first successful bacteria paintings, cultivated with the help of Dr. Kristin Baldwin, it was later printed onto paper and stabilized with a coat of resin.