For the past month or so I've been working with Neil to develop a way to effectively screen print with the bioluminescent E. coli. After many Fridays of trying out different things, we've good a good working culture! Turns out that E. coli grown from plates (exactly how we did it in class) fluoresces better than E. coli grown in a liquid culture. Neil has been kind enough to plate a good amount of the bacteria so that I can use it as a screen printing ink to print photographic imagery and small text.
I plan to screen print with the E.coli on top of ink jet printed photographs that depict my daily route and the various buildings I pass on and around campus--Wilson Library, Rarig, the 21st Avenue parking garage, business along East Hennepin and Como Ave near Van Cleve Park, and my route from the bus stop to Coffman union to use the TCF bank. Other areas could include Central Avenue near East Side Food Co-Op, the Quarry Plaza (Target, Rainbow, Home Depot), and restaurants around Cedar Riverside. I've noticed a number of surveillance cameras while being in these areas, especially on campus. I plan to photoshop out the actual surveillance cameras in the photographs I take and reprint them overtop of the photographs with the bioluminescent E. coli. By creating UV flashlights for the viewer to use, they can reveal where these cameras exist and become more aware of their own surveillance.
When we first worked with the GFP as a class, Neil described that one of the purposes of the bioluminescence was a way to track where proteins migrate and travel with a cell. In a way it's being used a a form of micro surveillance. I started becoming more aware of my surroundings on campus and began to take notice of just how many surveillance cameras there are across campus. We're surveyed so much in our everyday life--at the bank, grocery store, on the bus, etc, but now we also surveying the unseen as well. There's something contradicting and provocative about this to me and I'd like to do further research on the theories behind surveillance.
Below are some test samples that we photographed of the new and improved batch of plate grown E.coli. The first two were illuminated using the Spencers black light and the third was illuminated with the small hand held UV light. We had to do a few test to see how to best photograph the plates and thanks to Neil's photography experience (everything is digital now, but back in the day all scientists had to use film to document their findings). This makes me think there's this generation of scientists (including Neil) who are expert photographers.