Matthijs Munnik | 1 min | Netherlands | 2012
Can micro-organisms also be performers? How does our relation to these creatures change, after they are seen in an artistic and theatrical context? Looking for a micro-organism that would have the qualities of a performer, I was introduced to C. elegans; a tiny worm, less than a millimetre in length, that moved just as elegant as its name implies and the first creature to have its entire genome sequenced.
I was intrigued when a researcher told me that, to tell the worms apart under a microscope, he used different mutations that altered the way they moved. Some move in a spiral, other rolled or twitched and some became morbidly obese because of their mutations.
In my installation I have five petri dishes filled with five different mutated worms, which each move slightly different. These five groups of performers are filmed with a usb microscope shown live on the five screens.
I wrote special software that tracks the worms, and translates their movements into sounds, making them the unware performers of the music in the macroscopic world above their heads. While researchers are almost like gods to these helpless worms, controlling them from their first to their last cell division, I hoped to give the worms the power to affect us in our world as well.
The project won the artists & designers 4 genomics award, and has been realized with help of NCSB, NGI and Waag Society