Bacteriography / by Zachary Copfer

As a former microbiologist recently turned visual artist, I have begun searching for ways to synthesize the seemingly dichotomous fields of science and art. I believe that the separation of art and science is a misconception shared by many who are unfamiliar with the simple elegance of scientific theories. For me the world of science has always been a beautiful poetic place, more artful than anyplace else I have ever known.

In an effort to more deeply explore and then share the connection between art and science, I have designed a new photographic process that I have coined "Bacteriography". Put simply, this is a process to develop photographs in plates of bacteria. That is to say, the bacteria literally grow to form photographic images. The process is very similar to traditional darkroom photography, except instead of light sensitive photo paper I use plates of bacteria.








The first body of work I am creating with this new method is entitled Star Stuff. This work consist of photographs of distant galaxies, stars and supernovas taken by the Hubble telescope that i have then developed in plates of E. coli that I have genetically modified to be bioluminescent. Star Stuff serves as a visual exploration of the famous quote from Carl Sagan "We are all made of star stuff". When he said this, Sagan was referring to the scientific theory that every atom in our bodies was first created in a star. Personally, I can't think of anything more beautiful, anything more poetic or more artful than a common celestial birthplace for all life on Earth.