Crossing is an interactive puzzle that encourages viewers to contemplate our relationship with the microbes that inhabit our surfaces and those that cross over our protective barriers. The puzzle examines the role the microbial community plays in our behaviour and health.
After learning that bacteria communicate much like how our nervous system does, I became intrigued. My long interest in how energy and messages travel had me wondering how much microbes behave like our nervous system and what kind of interactions there may be between the two. Particularly, I wondered what happens when there is an imbalance of microbes and when they cross both physical and functional boundaries? What is the impact and to what extent are our intentions and efforts for acquiring and maintaining good health in conflict with the microbes that invade?
I was introduced to Linda Horianopolous after she presented “The Potential Perils of Brain Eating Fungi!” at a Nerd Nite event and I proposed a collaboration. She gathered more experts researching similar questions and together we explored how these ideas could be considered visually. The result of our conversations and the research shared with me is the piece Crossing.
Using the branching fractal as multi-functional motif to represent everything from microbial colonies, nervous system and microglia, vascular system and blood-brain-barrier, I emphasize the relationship they have with one another. The puzzle element brings to our attention the complexity of these relationships and our understanding of what promotes health and what leads to illness.
I would like to thank Linda Horianopoulos, Kylynda Bauer, Mihai Cirstea and Nina Radisavljevic (the microbiologists and immunologists from UBC) for their contributions to this project.