Biologically Derived Photographs... mold for instance.

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by holmburgers, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Here's an idea.

    Are there any examples of people making photographs out of mold, or other bacteria?

    Let me explain...

    Imagine a carbon print w/o pigment and w/o alcohol and with the possible addition of a "food source". Printed on a piece of paper and left to sit, would it be possible that mold would form in the image bearing portions?

    If one was versed in biology and the science of petri dish type experiments, perhaps a whole host of colors, contrast values, etc., could be obtained. Heck, maybe you could even make tri-color photos with the right combination of micro-organisms.

    Something to ponder; any biologist out there with any suggestions?
     
  2. Mlatterich

    Mlatterich Member

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    I have done starch prints before. Basically you expose a large, freshly-cut leaf with a contrasty negative overlaid, just like you would do a contact print. You expose for few hours under a strong light source and then throw the leaf into boiling absolute ethanol to fix (don't try this on your stove- fire hazard). You then expose the light yellow leaf to either iodine vapor or an organic solution of iodine. Areas exposed to light will stain purple due to starch accumulation as a result of light exposure.

    What you suggest sounds intriguing. It should be possible to select phototactic bugs or algae and then fix them in place.
     
  3. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    http://www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibitions/skin/skin-lab.aspx

    "Marta Lwin
    'epiSkin', 2006-07
    Cultured in a lab, epiSkin is biological jewellery made from epithelia cells, which are cultured to create an artificial skin. The cells are grown into designed forms controlled by the artist. The cells are incubated for a period of time, following which they are stained with a custom dye. The skin is then visibly sealed into a wearable object. The process of creating these pieces includes human tissue culturing as well as a computer-generated form on which the cells are cultured and then transplanted into adaptive jewellery."

    Okay not photographs but it is what came to mind when you said biologically derived photographs :smile:
     
  4. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Wow Akki, that is disturbing! :wink:

    The leaf prints also came to mind. I don't think this specific idea of mine has been put in to practice.. yet. I like the idea of algae too.

    I guess the thing to do is make said carbon print, throw in some yeast or something and see what happens. I might email a biologist and see what food sources attract the most "colorful" bacteria.
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    B&W photos are natural inhibitors due to the silver and hardener present in the coating.

    Color photos are much less so and will develop mold and fungus and thus they need a stabilizer to inhibit biological growth.

    However, in cases where I have seen growths on photo materials, it has been non-imagewise.

    PE
     
  6. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Can you think of any scheme off the top of your head?

    The carbon idea could work, shouldn't it?, seeing as it's just gelatin. You could even imbibe it with some kind of solution afterwards, some nutritional soup for their feeding pleasure, and following imbition properties, the solution would be imbibed relative to the degrees of hardening in the carbon matrix.
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Bacteria and mold grow on gelatin and in carbon glop. It smells just "wonderful". I don't eat Jello and have not really eaten any since I joined EK. :wink:

    PE
     
  8. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    You know.... it does smell wonderful! Hah!



    :sick:
     
  9. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    One of Peter Gabriel's music videos featured words/images appearing as growing mushrooms. Perhaps not "photographic" but still an ingenious use of "biological imaging".
     
  10. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I love Sledgehammer!
     
  11. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Here's a thought: Chia seeds, the same used on the Chi-pets.. Chiatypes.. you heard it hear first!
     
  12. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The Chiatype would have to be a contact print, left to "expose" for weeks. And then it would be a three-d rendering of the image- the seeds would sprout and grow tallest/most vibrant where the negative allowed in the most sunlight. Probably work best with a massive halftone matrix.
     
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  15. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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  16. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Well, not if you sprinkled them over a wet pigmentless carbon print, eh? Though you're right... no continuous tone. And instead of pigment, maybe you'll need some DIRT in there.

    :cool:
     
  17. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    If you used bluegrass you could get a cyanotype :smile:
     
  18. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    We need 3 flowers; one for red, green and blue. Then, we plant them according to the photograph and using additive synthesis we'll get a color photograph the size of a field!

    Hmmm... there's got to be a better way.
     
  19. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I had a batch of pigmented gelatin too long in the fridge for making some carbon tissue -- it was starting to get a little ripe, but I went ahead, poured the tissues and made prints.

    I can honestly say the prints stank...
     
  20. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    At least they didn't suck.

    (by the way, how long is too long? I've got gel in the box too...)
     
  21. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Well, the prints stank, but hopefully the images did not suck!

    About a week. It will depend on how many mold spores one had floating around (lots here in dampish Humboldt County!!) and how clean one's working area and glassware are.

    A bit of Listerine (Thimol) might keep the mold at bay.

    Once I pour the tissues, I have to keep a fan on them until the top surface dries enough to fend off mold.

    I have been adding about 5 to 10 ml of straight rubbing alcohol to the glop when mixing it (to help reduce air bubbles) -- might be helping a little to fight mold for the 6 to 8 hours I have it standing in a 105F water bath before pouring. I can usually still smell a little of the alcohol when I pour the tissues.
     
  22. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Lawnmower and fertilizer to dodge and burn :smile:
     
  23. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I think we're getting somehwere.....

    NOT! :laugh:
     
  24. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masson's_trichrome

    Due to different properties in the various types of tissues and what they absorb, a specimen can be soaked in subsequent dye-baths and come out with individual parts dyed different colors.

    Histological stains are really the study of what stains what.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gömöri_methenamine_silver_stain

    Imagine some scheme where the 3 separations of a color photograph can be combined into a medium, but with each separation composed of a different material. Like, a protein, a fungus and a carbohydrate (for instance... I don't really know what I'm talking about). Soak this in 3 dye-baths and each layer would come out a different color.

    Maybe accurate color is a bit too much to ask for, but it's something to think on... if you like thinking about this kind of stuff.
     
  25. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I think a biochemical reaction, as in a leaf print, is a lot easier to pull off than using microorganisms. I'm no longer practicing as a microbiologist, but it seems like it would be tricky to sufficiently control microbial growth to create intermediate tones. It would be a challenge to do a controlled photo-mechanical application of a suitable growth medium/food source to a substrate and culture your bug. There are also some diffusion problems that you'd need to work out because the inevitable spread of the nutrients and the bugs, but everything could probably be worked out. Maybe a first inkjet pass of the nutrient/growth medium and a second pass with the bugs? Could you even squirt the media through an inkjet? Would the bugs survive? Maybe you'd have to coarsely spray them on? Some kind of non-absorbent substrate (polystyrene?). Sounds like a good project for someone with lots of time and money. :smile:
     
  26. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Hi Barry,

    To me, the easiest and cheapest way would be to put some kind of nutrient source in gelatin, maybe yeast?, and then make a typical carbon print out of it, sans pigment. That way, if mold or whatever took hold, it would be guaranteed to be confined to the image bearing portions. Whether or not there would be continuous tone is yet to be determined.

    In theory, since the gelatin relief would hold nutrients proportional to its thickness, thinner parts would have less growth and hopefully be more transparent than the shadows, which would be nutrient rich.

    Any insight on some colorful mold or fungi?