Archive | August 2013

Week 4

Rebecca says:

What happened this week?

I tried ‘painting’ with bacteria! It’s not straightforward because you can’t really see anything until it grows – just a slight sheen on the already shiny agar plate. I think the design has turned out pretty well for a first attempt in any case.

Painting with bacteria

Painting with bacteria

Other things that I have been up to this week include chasing up some model making ideas and sorting out gear for the time-lapse video that we ran today.

What did you learn?

It’s been quite a learning curve figuring out how to do the time-lapse video. It is the first time that either Siouxsie or I have attempted to do one, and we’re working with a less-than-easy subject matter!

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

I’m excited to see the results of the time-lapse video!

What’s next?

I hope that next week I can make some progress sorting out the models that we have in mind. We’ll also hopefully hear that results of the experiments that Siouxsie’s lab have been running, as this will influence the direction that we take from here.

Growing and glowing

Siouxsie says:

What happened this week?

This week I got the whole of my lab to help with making all the different kinds of media that we want to test the bacteria growing in, and pouring agar plates. Hopefully I’ll be able to report what media they liked in next week’s update.

Rebecca came along to my place and I showed her how to ‘draw’ a design onto an agar plate with the bacterial solution. She tried a couple of really beautiful designs almost remeniscent of coral, while I had a try tracing over a QR code for our website.

I just left the agar plates in my living room over night to see if they would grow at room temperature but as it’s August, and I live in an unheated, uninsulated villa, there was just the faintest trace of bacteria in the morning. I usually grow the bacteria in an incubator set at a balmy 28 degrees Celcius, so it’s not wonder they were a little slow off the mark!

We also decided to experiment with doing some time-lapse photography of the bacteria growing on the agar plates, so I’ve been reading camera manuals and figuring out how to run the programme on the computer to control the camera remotely.

One thing about time-lapse photography though is the need for a good power supply for the camera. Rebecca checked out equipment hire places to try to get an adapter to plug our camera into the mains, but to no avail, so we are reliant on changing and recharging the battery every eight hours… I also set up a makeshift ‘darkroom’ in my house to take the photos – now the challenge is keeping my two cats from interfering with it!

Time lapse progress

The makeshift darkroom – spot the tripod leg peeping out from under the cover!

What did you learn?

How to do time-lapse photography and remotely control my camera. Rebecca also sent me a link to learn how to batch process the photos in Photoshop which should save a lot of time.

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

I can’t wait to see how the movie comes out when we put all the photos together.

What’s next?

This week we will be editing the hundreds of photos we took and putting them together to make a short movie, hopefully of a glowing pattern emerging!

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Week 3

Rebecca says:

What happened this week?

I met Siouxsie at her lab to check out how the bacteria were glowing in solution. Unfortunately they were not cooperating and were barely glowing at all. Siouxsie will experiment with some different media to see if she can get them glowing better for next week.

After I left the lab, I went to meet my sister at Auckland Museum, where she works. We wandered around the exhibition Moana – My Ocean for some underwater inspiration. It was fun to explore the augmented reality specimens and experience being in the middle of a Hauraki Gulf boil up, or fish feeding frenzy. I also met some distant relatives of the bobtail squid, such as this alien-looking glass squid.

Glass squid

What did you learn?

This week did remind me that we are dealing with a somewhat unpredictable subject matter!

After attending Moana – My Ocean, I also watched the exhibition’s behind the scenes videos. Although it’s not directly related to our project, I enjoyed learning about all the work that goes into each element of an exhibition like that.

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

I can’t wait to see the final installation, but I’m also excited about documenting the process of how we get there. We’re actually working on an idea for a ‘behind the scenes’ video ourselves.

What’s next?

We’re getting closer to deciding on the final form to contain the bacteria, though we’re going to need some help in seeing this come to life. That’s what I’m working on this week.

Siouxsie says:

What happened this week?

Rebecca and I met for a catch up at my lab. I had hoped to have beautiful glowing bacteria to show her but they weren’t particularly bright. We had another chat about ideas for how to contain the bacteria.

What did you learn?

That bacteria don’t always do what you want them to do, but then as a microbiologist, I’m very familiar with this concept!

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

Same as last week, still excited by everything!

What’s next?

This coming week we are going to try a range of different types of media to see which our bacteria prefer to grow and glow in. We are going to set these experiments up overnight in a luminometer, a machine which measures light, so that we can take lots of measurements over time and see when the bacteria start to glow.

Chemicals

Week 2

Rebecca says:

What happened this week?

This week we went to the Art in the Dark artist workshop at Black Asterisk. There were about ten other artists or groups who came along, and everyone had the chance to introduce their project. We then broke off into smaller groups to talk to members of the Art in the Dark team about details such as location, construction, technical requirements and funding.

What did you learn?

This week’s workshop was just a selection of the forty odd artists who will be participating in Art in the Dark, but there was already such a wide variety of projects!

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

I can’t wait to see how the bacteria solution turns out. We know that the bacteria glow well on petri dishes, but it is a bit of an unknown how well they will glow in solution.

What’s next?

Tomorrow Siouxsie and I are catching up to experiment with different containers and presentation options. I’ve got a number of ideas I want to sketch and explore further too.

bobtailsquidline

Siouxsie says:

What happened this week?

This week the Art in the Dark team invited participating artists to a get-together at the Black Asterisk Gallery on Ponsonby Road. It was great to meet the Art in the Dark team and some of the other artists who will be taking part this year. There was a lot of enthusiasm for our project!

We also signed a contract with the organisers and marked on the park map where we wanted our artwork to be positioned.

blackasterisk

I had taken a few petri dishes of glowing bacteria for Rebecca to see and afterwards we went for another wander around the park to see how dark it would need to be to see them.

What did you learn?

That Art in The Dark 2013 is going to be great! I can’t wait to see everyone’s ideas come to life.

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

Everything. Making our ideas a reality and seeing everyone else do the same.

What’s next?

All of the ingredients we needed have arrived, so this week we are going to get started making some liquid media for our bacteria to grow in.

Week 1

Rebecca says:

What happened this week?

This week I visited Siouxsie at her lab at Auckland University Medical School. She gave me a tour around the lab where they grow and research bacteria like Vibrio fisheri, as well as much more nasty bugs like Staphylococcus and Tuberculosis.

We talked about different options for containing the bacteria as part of the installation; it seems that petri dishes come in quite a range of styles and sizes!

Lab equipment

What did you learn?

You have to wash your hands every time you leave the lab. With bugs like that about, you can understand why!

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

On the way home, we decided to wander around Western Park and identify some of the shadier spots in the park, which would better suit our bacteria.  We found a few suitable spaces and threw around a number of ideas. I can’t wait to develop these further now!

What’s next?

Next Wednesday, the Art in the Dark team are putting on a workshop for the participating artists at Black Asterisk gallery.

I’m a bit nervous as I’ve never been involved in an event like this, and I’m not quite sure what to expect. Though I’m really looking forward to meeting all the other participants and hearing about their projects.

Siouxsie says:

What happened this week?

Rebecca and I met for a catch up at my lab. I showed her around, and she brought me up to date with her research into 3D printing. Afterwards, we strolled through Western Park looking at the ambient light levels and thinking about how our ideas could fit in different locations around the park.

What did you learn?

That 3D printing is expensive! And that we have a lot of ideas for how this project could pan out. Oh, and that some of the trees in Western Park are very tall. If we go ahead with our idea of hanging things in the trees, which will need replacing each day of the event, I have no idea how we will achieve that!

What are you most inspired by/excited about?

I am really keen to get started trying to find the best conditions to make our bacteria glow, and to seeing how long their light will last for.

What’s next?

As soon as all the ingredients arrive, we will get started making the liquid broth our bacteria will grow in. Then we can see how bright they really are.

week1list