We human beings are walking biotopes. Billions of bacteria live on and in our bodies. Every day, wherever we go, we carry around 2-3 kilograms of them with us, and thus 100 times more genetic information than our own human genome contains. To make the hidden diversity of this personal ecosystem visible, “Metabodies” focuses our attention on the bacteria’s communications. As soon as the bacteria are present in sufficient numbers, exchange of chemical substances takes place among them. When this so-called quorum sensing occurs, organisms created especially for this project begin to glow. A sampling of our skin’s bacterial population, which was transplanted into a fluid culture medium where it can flourish under ideal conditions, provides a completely new way of looking at our body’s bacteria. In all of our activities, we differ from one another not only genetically but also bacterially.
Credits: Sonja Bäumel (AT), Manuel Selg (AT), Ars Electronica Futurelab, 2013