In this remarkable video, microbiologist Edward Johnson and Ph.D student Clayton Wright collaborate to create a Google Logo out of fast-multiplying bacteria.
I find it fascinating that scientists can express their creativity through such awesome means. I’m no science major, and the last time I had the opportunity to work with cells was in high school. Where art applies, I typically think of a pencil and pen, or paintbrush. When I saw the video of the Johnson and Wright creating a Google logo by literally growing bacteria, I was awed. It was really quite fascinating.
The process itself is not too difficult: simply color the bacteria, make sure it grows according to a mold, and then let them replicate into the shape of the mold.
I find this very interesting because of the medium used. Typically, art has been formed using writing utensils and traditional brushes. With our ever increasing knowledge of science, by infusing color into the cell membrane and cytoplasm of the bacteria, Johnson and Wright are in their own ways exploring artists, finding a new medium for many others out there. It’s also interesting because they created this piece as scientists, where traditional educational systems have led us to believe that art and science are always exclusive.
This does open up a lot of opportunity of art. For example, instead of using splashes of paint as abstract painting, artists could use bacteria and plant them on some sort of canvas, then let them develop on their own under appropriate conditions. Talk about unique!
The result can actually be seen on your own Google home page by simply navigating to the bottom left hand corner and selecting Change Desktop Background, then Editor’s Picks. Notice the edges of the Google letters formed by the bacteria, and how the colors aren’t even. The inconsistencies make this piece very unique, and I’m quite impressed with the end result. Of course, the colors aren’t as vivid as the computer-generated graphic, but the translucence of the piece trumps the original opaque one. This piece is truly, both literally and metaphorically, organic.