When we use synthetic biology to perform complex changes to nature, we usually forget that we rely on fragile, human-made computer systems to do so. “Biogenic Timestamp” clearly illustrates that bacteria are capable of internalizing our technological creations and modifying them as they please. In the case study carried out by this project, electronic components are subjected to genetically modified bluegreen algae. These cyano-bacteria are among the most primitive forms of life; due to their ability to perform photosynthesis, they depend on light energy. In symbolic fashion, the tiny creatures ingest elements like silicon, gold and iron from the computer hardware, reorder them as they grow, and thereby completely disorganize the linear logic of the human-made electronic circuits. At the same time, they span an arc between a geological understanding of time and a biological one.
Credits: Hideo Iwasaki (JP), Oron Catts (AU), 2010