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Wacky Scientist-Turned-Artist Uses Bacteria to Create Art

Zachary Copfer, a former microbiologist recently turned visual artist, uses bacteria like E.coli to create detailed artworks in petri dishes. His weird technique is aptly called “bacteriography”.

If you’re hungry for some out-of-this-world art, then Zachary Copfer’s bacteriography series should feed your appetite for a while. His photo-printing technique is unlike anything you’ve seen before, in that rather than using photo-sensitive papers, chemicals, or ink, Copfer uses live bacteria. The University of Cincinnati MFA photography student actually controls how the bacteria grows in order to form detailed works of art. Copfer stars his unique artistic process by turning bacteria like E.coli into a fluorescent protein and spreading it across a plate. A negative of the photo he wants to reproduce is placed on top of the plate and exposed to radiation, causing the bacteria to grow in strategic places and recreating a detailed image. Once the photo is replicated, the bacteriography work of art is coated in acrylic and resin to stop it degrading.

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