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Posts Tagged bioluminescence

Biolumination II: Meet the artists! Laura Ward Siouxsie Wiles Mar 28

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Biolumination - Laura

Photo taken by Benj Brooking.

On Saturday the 14th March I organised Biolumination II as part of thinkScience day at the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. I challenged a group of artists and illustrators to each come up with a work of art using just a solution of harmless bioluminescent bacteria and a collection of 25 x 25 cm square petri-dishes. I want to introduce you to each of the artists and show off their amazing pieces.

Meet Laura Ward!

Laura Ward

Laura is a research associate at the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research. Her current work involves using genetic barcoding techniques to monitor the ecology of insects in fruit orchards and other productive landscapes. Laura is also an avid self-taught face painter and body artist on the weekends.

Glow Booth at the Auckland Arts Festival Siouxsie Wiles Mar 27

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Sticky TV

Jahmaine & Walter from kids TV show Sticky TV on FOUR experience the Glow Booth

The Glow Booth, where people are photographed illuminated only by the light of glowing bacteria, made an appearance at thinkScience day as part of the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. A huge thanks to Benj Brooking for help taking the photos. During the 4 hours the booth was open, 205 people came to be photographed. We’ve loaded their portraits on Flickr here.

Biolumination II: Meet the artists! Rodrigo Vidal Siouxsie Wiles Mar 26

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Biolumination - Rodrigo

Photo taken by Benj Brooking.

On Saturday the 14th March I organised Biolumination II as part of thinkScience day at the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. I challenged a group of artists and illustrators to each come up with a work of art using just a solution of harmless bioluminescent bacteria and a collection of 25 x 25 cm square petri-dishes. I want to introduce you to each of the artists and show off their amazing pieces.

Meet Rodrigo Vidal!

pic

Rodrigo finished his interior design studies in 2007 in Santiago, Chile. After spending 4 great years learning from a beautiful team and developing his passion for furniture and interior design, he decided a change was needed and went traveling. While in India Rodrigo developed his love of illustration, which he is continuing to develop working as part of the design team at TILE SPACE – ELLERSLIE. Rodrigo draws his own life, his own stories and points of view about the here and now.

instagram.com/rodrigxs

Petri dish art at the Auckland Arts Festival Siouxsie Wiles Mar 26

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petridish art

As part of the thinkScience day at the 2015 Auckland Art Festival, we spent 2 hours letting kids and their families make their own bioluminescent bacterial art using just a cotton bud, a petri dish and a solution of harmless bioluminescent bacteria. Many thanks to James Dalton, Claire Honney, Hannah Read, Simon Swift and Benedict Uy for their help running this activity. Almost 200 children took part. The next day I photographed their glowing art works and put them up on Flickr for them to see.

If you are in Auckland this weekend and want to come have a try, we’ll be at the MOTAT Science Street Fair on Sunday!

Biolumination II: Meet the artists! Hope Sutherland Siouxsie Wiles Mar 25

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Biolumination - Hope

Hope Sutherland’s ‘Typhoid fever’ for Biolumination II. Photo taken by Benj Brooking.

On Saturday the 14th March I organised Biolumination II as part of thinkScience day at the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. I challenged a group of artists and illustrators to each come up with a work of art using just a solution of harmless bioluminescent bacteria and a collection of 25 x 25 cm square petri-dishes. I want to introduce you to each of the artists and show off their amazing pieces.

Meet Hope Sutherland!

Hope low res

Hope is a young adult in a state of limbo between biology & the arts. Needless to say, she pounced eagerly at the idea of glowing bacterial paint.

thinkScience at the Auckland Arts Festival – Biolumination II Siouxsie Wiles Mar 23

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Saturday the 14th March saw the debut of thinkScience as part of the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival. As part of the day’s events, I organised a number of activities/installations involving a harmless marine bacterium that naturally glows in the dark. I got involved for many reasons, including putting science in places people weren’t expecting it, providing a space for the public to interact with scientists and also to show people that while they may be repulsed by the idea of bacteria and ‘germs’, these creatures can also be beautiful.

Biolumination II

In Biolumination II, I acted as curator, challenging artists/illustrators Helen Beech, Julia Marchwicka, Cinzah ‘Seekayem’ Merkens, Hope Sutherland, Rodrigo Vidal, Laura Ward and Katherine Yang, to each come up with a work of art using just a solution of harmless bioluminescent bacteria and a collection of 25 x 25 cm square petri-dishes. To give you an idea of scale, most of the pieces were 1 metre high by 1 metre wide. That’s a lot of agar!

Unfortunately for the artists, the bacterial solution is essentially invisible, and the artists weren’t able to see their creation until the bacteria had grown the next day. The works were displayed in the Vault, part of Q Theatre. The exhibit was open from 10:30am till midnight and was visited by over 1600 people.

biolumination summary

From left to right, top row: Helen Beech, Julia Marchwicka, Cinzah ‘Seekayem’ Merkens; middle row: Hope Sutherland, Rodrigo Vidal, Laura Ward; bottom row: Katherine Yang. Photographs by Benj Brooking.

I’ll post better pictures and more info about each of the artists over the coming week. Overall, I am really pleased with how Biolumination II turned out. It was just amazing to see the beautiful creations each of the artists coaxed out of their bacterial solution. A huge thanks to my lab, most notably Benedict Uy, as well as James Dalton and Hannah Read, for preparing the litres and litres of media needed to make this exhibit a reality. Thanks also to Gareth Baston, chief petri-dish wrangler, for turning the Vault from a bare theatre space into an art gallery for the day.

So what did the public think?

Dr Rhian Salmon, of Victoria University, Wellington, suggested using post-it notes to gather feedback from visitors to the exhibit. The ‘Illumination Board’ was born and 160 messages were left there throughout the day.

illumination board

These are just some of the messages posted:

“As an artist, I love the out-of-box-thinking and integration of science and art – most inventive.”

“Mindblowing glowing art science wonder.”

“I found that intreging (sic) and interesting, scary at the same time. Overall I enjoyed it.”

“Amazing example of art and science combining to create an amazing learning experience.”

“Fascinating and so creative. Well done. Never thought I would see something like this.”

“Science alive – every child (and big child) should see this.”

“This was cool. To think that’s bacteria. It’s amazing. I had a wonderful experience.”

As a scientist, my intention with Biolumination II was to bring people to science through art, but one message showed me the opposite was also true:

“Wonderful. The only time my scientist daughter (11) enjoyed art.”

These activities wouldn’t have happened with the financial and/or logistical help of everyone involved in thinkScience, the Auckland Arts Festival, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, the University of Auckland, the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Discovery, and Tile Space. And of course the never-ending patience of my lab!

thinkScience day at the Auckland Arts Festival Siouxsie Wiles Mar 05

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thinkScience

Saturday the 14th of March sees the debut of thinkScience*, a mini-festival of science being held as part of the Auckland Arts Festival family weekend and White Night. We may be starting small, but we have something for everyone!

Interested in things that go whiz/bang or got any kids or grandkids that are? Then ‘Nanogirl’ Michelle Dickinson’s early evening show in the Town Hall is for you! Prepare to have your mind blown as Nanogirl explores the wonders of cloud power, wind power, magnet power and fire power. Tickets available here.

Interested in something more cerebral? In the Spiegeltent in Aotea Square will be two panels exploring how science shapes our city. The first panel will look at what makes the city work – the natural, technological, human, and the interactions between them. The second session focuses on ideas and innovation – how can ideas change our world? Tickets available here.

Interested in science as art or things that glow? In Q Theatre, I’ll be challenging a group of artists and illustrators to create a living work of art using glowing bacteria. Meanwhile, in Aotea Square will be a photo booth with a difference, where people can step into the dark and be photographed by the light of glowing bacteria. People can also try their hand at creating glowing art, drawing their very own masterpiece using nothing more than a solution of harmless glowing bacteria and a petri-dish. These events are free, details available here.

*thinkScience is the brainchild of Prof Richard Easther, head of Physics at the University of Auckland, and Victoria Carter, chair of the Auckland Arts Festival. thinkScience is supported by the University of Auckland’s Faculties of Science, Engineering and Medical & Health Sciences, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Te Punaha Matatini, MacDiarmid Institute, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, Tile Space, ASB Community Trust, Buddle Findlay and event partner Auckland Arts Festival.

**Photo of Auckland skyline posted anonymously here.

WANTED! Artists/illustrators needed for glowing art/science project. Siouxsie Wiles Feb 09

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hello kitty

Are you an artist/illustrator who wants to try something different? Or do you know anyone who is?

I’m looking for 8-10 people to join me for a very special project as part of this year’s thinkScience day being held during the Auckland Arts Festival and White Night. They will need to be free and in Auckland on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of March and not be a germaphobe….

The challenge: to create a 1 metre x 1 metre art piece.

The catch? The ink is actually a solution of bacteria and the ‘canvas’ a collection of petri-dishes.

The bacteria the artists will be using is not dangerous, and naturally glows in the dark. This means that wherever the artists draw/paint onto the petri-dishes, the bacteria will grow. And when they do, they will glow a beautiful blueish colour in the dark.

Interested? Get in touch!

Here’s a time-lapse of a ‘drawing’ Rebecca Klee and I made:

YouTube Preview Image

The science of Rudolf’s glowing nose! Siouxsie Wiles Dec 24

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Rudolf by Latharion

Rudolf by Latharion

This festive season AUT University Prof’s Steve Pointing and Allan Blackman released a marvelous little video explaining the science behind some of the unanswered mysteries of Christmas. How does Santa get to all those houses unseen in one night? And how does he get down the chimney? I’ve been sent the video so many times as they also cover the science that could explain Rudolf’s red nose. Bioluminescence of course!

Except…. they get it a little bit wrong. So I talked to the fantastic Rebecca Watson from Skepchick and explained the real science behind Rudolf’s red nose. Enjoy!

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

PS Slight correction… while we are being pedantic, in the video I say that GFP is excited by UV light. This is true for wild-type GFP but there are also lots of variants now so it’s probably the case that the GFP-expressing animals are made with a modified GFP that is excited by blue light rather than UV.

PPS If you like Rebecca’s video, you can support her to make more on Patreon, and if you can think of other science stories you would like explaining like this then let us know!

Monday Micro – glowing bugs return to the park! Siouxsie Wiles Nov 10

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biolumination2

This Thursday, bioluminescent bacteria will once again be making an appearance at Auckland’s Art in the Dark festival. ‘Biolumination‘ is the result of my second collaboration with artist Rebecca Klee. This year sees our glowing bacteria being displayed in custom-built glass vessels which remind me a lot of the fishing lines our native glow worm Arachnocampa luminosa uses to snare its food.

The lovely people at Gather and Hunt made a neat little video about Rebecca and I which will give you a little teaser of Biolumination in action. And for those of you in Auckland, come along to Western Park, 8pm-midnight, Thursday 13th – Sunday 16th November and look for the shipping container down at the bottom of the park.

YouTube Preview Image

If you are curious about last year’s piece – Living Light – check out the project blog here.

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