I Bacteria


As the name may suggest “I, Bacteria” concerns itself with microbes (ironically not limited only to bacteria, but intended to encompassing all that is gut flora). This is an ongoing investigation, into how could one acoustically attune to the alterior agencies in our guts. I am collaborating with Rod Dillon of LAB-C on this project.

I, Bacteria consists of a resurrected safety device conjoined with an bacterial bioreactor. The safety device is the 100 year old Methane Whistle(designed by Fritz Haber). The bioreactors are intended to house intestinal microbes

The working prototype aims to create an extremely analogue manner of data sonification. It utilises the phenomena of beats to audify a quantity, in this case the amount of gas a colony of bacteria produce as they metabolise.

“I, Bacteria” is a contraption intended to mediate information about the state of a system through the medium of sound. It explores how we might use technology to relate to our microbiome through registers under than genomic quantification.

By harking back to the Methane Whistle, an ingenuously simple device that mediated crucial information about the shift in a system’s state (from a safe mining environment to an environment comprimised by the presence of combustible methane), it hopes to provoke thought about two topics:

(i) the construction of tools & technologies to measure and extract actionable information from dynamic systems and

(ii) tools of measurement we apply to our inner ecologies.

Both topics stem from the artists interest in the agency of technical systems and how humans couple with those systems.

New York Installation

I, Bacteria was exhibited as part of Code of Contingency in 319 Scholes NYC, a media art show exploring the power of sound when used as a learning device.

The exhibit featured an automated Firedamp Whistle (Methane Whistle) wired to two bioreactors. These bioreactors were producing CO2, which being slightly denser than air also served aptly in use of the beats phenomena. Audio beats are generated when two sounds of matching amplitude but differing frequency overlap. In the installation two bagpipe drones, each with an identical reed, provided the means of musical venting the CO2 accumulated in airtight reservoirs

A recording of the acoustic difference is also available below


I am indebted to conversations with Cathal Garvey, Fernanda Costa, Anna Dumitriu, for crucial information and conversations and to YoHa for invaluable advice. All have helped me bring the project to it’s current incarnation. I am grateful to Lisa Baldini and Sarah Jury for inviting me to exhibit the work in progress as part of Code of Contingency in 319 Scholes NYC