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Sonja Bäumel

Exploring social networks on our body.
In collaboration with Dr. Manuel Selg (Professor of Molecular Biology, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria)
This project investigates the unexpected diversity found on the human ecosystem and its ‘social networks’, by focusing on the language of billions of bacteria, which populate it.
Sonja Bäumel tested left-hand prints of two subjects in three specially prepared Petri dishes: once after athletic activity, once right after sex, and once fresh out of the shower. Over a period of 8 days, she photographed the impressions on an hourly basis to document the development process.
To make the hidden diversity of this personal ecosystem visible, Metabodies focuses our attention on the communication of bacteria.
As soon as bacteria are present in sufficient numbers, an exchange of chemical substances takes place among them. When this so-called “quorum sensing” occurs, the organisms created especially for this project begin to glow.
A sampling of the bacterial population on the skin provides a completely new way of looking at the body’s bacteria.
Is it possible to observe the language that bacteria ‘speak’ through molecules in different conditions? How does this communication change in different contexts?

* Sonja Bäumel is a special guest of the New Media Department in Musrara.

Photos Credits:
1. Peter Freudling
2. Ars Electronica, Metabodies (2013) / Sonja Bäumel (AT), Manuel Selg (AT) and Ars Electronica Futurelab.
photo credit: Tom Mesic

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