Lactobacillus Crispatus, Lactobacillus Iners, Lactobacillus Jensenii, or Lactobacillus Gasseri, 2021

We are inhabited by many microorganisms - bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists. In fact, there are more nonhuman than human cells in our bodies. Microbiome, living both on and inside our bodies, is significantly important for health, immunity, or nutrition. Together we make corporeal companion species - a figuration that troubles the category of a separate, individualised self. It is a symbiotic relationship in which both sides, the human body, and microbiota benefit. The installation focuses specifically on the vaginal communities of the microbiome. It generally shows a predominance of Lactobacillus genus with the prevalence of one species among L. crispatus, L. iners, L. jensenii or L. gasseri. It is the first microbiome we are ever exposed to while passing through the mother’s birth canal. Studies have shown that their lack can cause long-term consequences for health among infants born through the c-section. 

Exploration of an ongoing intra-activity between human and nonhuman actors brings into question the anthropological understanding of our bodies as distinctively human. Other nonhumans are entangled with us in the dynamic assemblage of constant, mutual becoming. We co-emerge with other forms of matter; it is a dance of agency between human and nonhuman.

L. crispatus, L. iners, L. jensenii or L. gasseri is presented as an interactive installation along with the sound on headphones. Bio-electrical activity of micro-organisms has been translated to a sound process in the bacterial fuel cells by the Interspecifics Lab. The biomorphic forms with printed microbiomes invite a viewer to experience the state of immersion into the world of microorganisms, normally not visible to a naked eye. Constructed as an awakening bodily experience evoking tactility and engaging the sense of touch, it reminds us that we are never outside observers of the world, but rather a part of what we try to capture or understand scientifically. Hence, instead of SEM microscope images of bacteria, there are photographic interpretations of them. They allude to the fact that science, like all forms of human knowledge,  is a kind of story-telling practice and question an idea of objective truth. There is no clear division between a knower and known.