BIO Show Daily

“Living Art,” May 19, 2009

The life sciences have generated a relatively new crop of artists who use living organisms and biological processes to create works of art. Hunter Cole, Ph.D. is one such artist who draws inspiration from the living.

What: Rabbit: Stages 1 and 2
Photographs of bioluminescent bacteria

How: "These Living Drawings depict the cycle of life and death calling attention to our own mortality.  Hunter Cole creates controlled line drawings using bioluminescent bacteria. The bacteria then grow on Petri dishes. Bacteria become collaborators in the art as it grows and dies. First appearing with bright light, bacteria in the drawing are photographed as it uses up available nutrients, gradually dying-off over a two-week period.  An example of that is "Rabbit" where the initial drawing, "Rabbit: Stage 1," shows a rabbit on the right and a rooster on the left.  After some of the bacteria die in "Rabbit: Stage 2," the rooster on the left becomes a wolf.  Hunter Cole created the initial drawing.  It would have been very difficult to predict the rooster would become a wolf.  The bacteria contributed to the story in the art.   Cole is working on a new series of bacterial drawings using bacteria genetically engineered to express fluorescent proteins of different colors." Hunter Cole

Why: "Integrating art and biology can lead to new discoveries in biology and exciting art with new media and new meanings.  Both fields can greatly enhance one another."

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Photo Credit: "Rabbit: Stages 1 and 2," photographs of bioluminescent bacteria, Hunter Cole.


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