Art, Fashion, Science
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VIRAL DRESSES

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With Ebola raging across West Africa and killing countless of people, everyone is getting paranoid and wants nothing to do with any form bacteria, viruses and all that. But one artist’s obsession with the unconventional subject matter began with an elementary school project on the plague, leading her to later work with microbiologists after her art degree.

British artist Anna Dumitriu‘s work deals with the exploration between art and science. It urges us to investigate our ongoing co-evolution with bacteria from a physical, cultural and aesthetic perspective, blurring the boundaries between art, craft, and microbiology. Her work uses a range of digital, biological and traditional media including bacteria, projections and textiles, inspired by the key pioneers of microbiology as well as contemporary research.

One of her works titled “Communicating Bacteria” combines bioart, historical textile techniques and 3D mapped video projections to explore new research currently being undertaken in the field of bacterial communication, to engage a wide audience in the field and increase debate and understanding of this potentially new form of infection control.

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To start off, textile designs were stained with dyes made from bacteria that change colour dependent on the behaviour and communication of bacteria. After a day of so of dyeing, the bacteria soaked fabric is then exposed to another form of bacteria, allow the white bacteria to turn purple. The process of dyeing and reaction of the bacteria was filmed using time-lapse photography and the resulting film was projected, using 3D video mapping technology across the dress.

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Also check out her “MSRA Quilt” which features an indigo blue patchwork quilt stained with MRSA bacteria grown on chromogenic agar and patterned with clinical antibiotics and other tools in the research and treatment of this disease. MSRA infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections. With that comes unexpected and one of a kind results from the reaction of the bacteria and antibodies.

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Another work I find rather intriguing is “Where there’s dust there’s danger” where she created a series of tiny felt lungs from wool and dust which she has incorporated the DNA of killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis produced in a Containment Level 3 Laboratory (the highest level for handling bacteria). Around a century ago dust was incorrectly thought to be one of the primary causes of the disease. The project was part of the The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis exhibition held in Watermans in London. Check out the video below where she takes us on a tour of the exhibition.

Image Source: annadumitriu.tumblr.com

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