E. Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and mold (the big fuzzy blobs) on the D train
Last February, 6sqft reported on a research project from Weill Cornell Medical College that mapped the DNA found on the New York City subway, which was said to include bubonic plague and anthrax. The scientists eventually reneged on their alarming findings, but little did they know that a Brooklyn-based artist was picking up where they left off. While riding the train this past summer, Craig Ward “saw a fellow photographer’s image of bacteria cultured from her son’s handprint,” according to New York magazine. Fascinated by how it related to the urban myth that “when you hold on to the subway railings, you shake hands with 100 people all at once,” he embarked on a project to ride all 22 subway lines, collecting bacteria samples from poles and seats. What resulted is this strangely beautiful “Subvisual Subway” print series of everything from salmonella to Staphylococcus aureus.
“As soon as you start taking out scientific equipment and petri dishes, people did start to look a bit,” Ward told New York. But no one really challenged me. You can get away with most things on the subway.”
If you look closely at the prints, you’ll notice that the bacteria in each petri dish was arranged to look like the letter of the subway line from which it was taken. Ward took the samples using sterilized sponges that were cut into the letter or number of the train. The petri dishes themselves are also color coordinated to the line.
What’s interesting is that to a blind eye, harmless bacteria (like the Micrococcus luteus seen above that’s a normal component of saliva and sweat) and dangerous bacteria (like the Staphylococcus aureus seen above that causes skin infections and food poisoning) are indistinguishable.
The prints are available as single subway lines or clusters; to pre-order them, visit Craig Ward’s shop here >>
[Via NY Mag]
- The NYC Subway Is Filled with Bacteria and DNA from Unidentifiable Organisms
- Would You Eat from Plates Printed with Bacteria?
- Studio Swine Makes Extraordinary Objects from Human Hair
All images via Craig Ward
Tags : Craig Ward