A work in progress by Tagny Duff

WetNet explores the relationship between contamination, bioremediation and sustainable systems. This work in progress features the creation of “contaminated” wet sculptures in the form of disposable science equipment. For example, sculptures are modelled after the sterilized plastic flasks commonly found in the laboratory and used to conduct experiments. In this case, the flasks are made of agar (a seaweed base commonly used to create assays), mycelium (Lions Mane mushroom), and human viral cells (HeLa and Lentivirus). The interaction between the mycelium and viral cells generate a transpecies network extending both inside and out of the flasks. The interaction between fungi and human viral cells challenge the logic of aseptic technique and sterile containment that justifies the need for plastic disposable materials in the lab. The prototypes “feed” microbes and communicate with them through the process of decomposition and remediation. The combination and interaction between organisms is explored as a living and undead network system and architecture that provokes a rethinking of the materials used to produce knowledge in the science laboratory. What happens when microbes are no longer the subject of experimentation, but become the network and material for knowledge creation? In this scenario, notions of contamination and contagion are radically altered. Rather than restrict movement between microbes and human, the human must re-imagine relations with the microbial worlds.

WetNet is produced for the exhibition Emergencies2012. Part of the project has been produced during an invited artist-in-residence at Ectopia in collaboration with Cultivamos Cultura, the URIA-Centro Patogenese Molecular, Faculdade Farmacia at the University of Lisbon and Joao Goncalves. Additional support and collaboration on developed includes Form lab at Université de Montréal, Metacycle labs at Concordia University and Fluxmedia also based at Concordia University. Rapidprototype design by Yasaman Sheri. WetNet is part of the larger three year research-creation project entitled Viral BioreMEDIAtion funded by Le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture.