A Bioreaktor 2014

A BIOREAKTOR (in-progress; …)

by Laura Beloff & Martin Malthe Borch, 2013-14; algae, earth + soil bacteria, plastics, textile, electronics.

Keywords: art, cyanobacteria, microbial fuelcell, wearable, energy

Sketch of the structure for Bioreaktor with some test tubes.

A BIOREAKTOR is a project located in the intersection of art, design, biology and technology. It is constructed as a symbiosis between a human and microbial fuel cell consisting of microbes and algae. The initial starting point for the project was one of the key questions of our future, energy.

Instead of aiming at influencing the human behavior towards more sustainable way of using energy or proposing plausible solutions for the future, this project is focused on the underlying perception about energy and life as a symbiosis within its surroundings. On the one hand, the project challenges our perception on production and consumption of energy. On the other hand, the project explores concretely a construct of hybrid ecology formed of networked technology, microorganisms and human.

The concepts of energy and energy production are typically connected to an image of large power plants located on the fringes of cities or even in different countries and continents. As a necessity in our everyday life it is delivered to us more or less automatically through pipes and cables running from these power plants to our cities and homes. That is to say that our perception of energy is formed through an image presenting a remote concept which processes are separated from our everyday routines nevertheless that it is inevitable and necessary part of our life.

The prototype in action. (Thanks for being the model; Brian Degger!)

There has been fair amount of research done investigating behavior of people concerning energy consumption including various experiments how to influence peoples’ behavior to the better. However our initial starting question has not been targeting  people’s normal habits concerning energy consumption, but  aiming at imposing a more permanent change in our basic perception and concrete relation concerning energy.  The focus is on the individual human as a living organism in symbiosis with its surroundings.

Technical: The piece contains soil-based bacteria in a black tube and blue-green algae in the transparent tubes. Cyanobacteria produces gaseous oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis with natural light, the oxygen is used by the soil bacteria for production of energy. This exchange has enabled the piece to be built as a closed system where everything necessary is provided by the symbiotic relation of the organisms. Further more, the system includes a human who functions as the ultimate life-support through liquid flows produced by natural human movement.

The project is being continued…

Different color algae strains in testing

* More images about the process here.

* Talking about the project at Kobenlab event; part of ESOF 2014 program.