Anna Dumitriu, Alex May: Super-organism: The Living Microbiome

  • ©2016, Anna Dumitriu and Alex May



    Super-organism: The Living Microbiome


Creation Year:



    5:19 min


Artist Statement:

    “Super-organism” is an video artwork by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May, which reveals the microscopic bacterial microbiota growing on the human body. These invisible so called ‘normal flora’ bacteria are an important part of what it means to be human, integral to our immune systems, and may even affect our personalities. We are, in fact, super-organisms – whole ecosystems containing many more bacterial cells than human cells.

    This video installation juxtaposes close-up high definition macroscopic video footage of the growth of colonies of bacteria with images of the parts of the human body from which they were sampled. The piece shows the huge diversity of ways in which these bacteria grow and spread across a Petri dish filled with agar jelly (a seaweed based growth medium) and how they compete for ‘territory’, sometimes producing their own antibiotics to ward of other bacteria or producing biofilms which help them to spread. The human microbiome is a complex ecosystem that actually forms part of our immune system as our normal flora can prevent the growth of other more dangerous, pathogenic bacteria. However in certain circumstances our normal bacterial flora can cause disease and drug-resistant strains of bacteria, which exist in healthy people in the community, such as MRSA, can be a particular problem if they spread in a healthcare setting.

Technical Information:

    Media Used: HD video, DIY microbiology Techniques.