Feel Your Fermented Biome 2022

This project investigated the effects of consuming fermented foods on identity and health, through the haptification and sonification of microbial data. For the residency duration, fermented foods were produced, tested and consumed by the artists. The effects of consuming fermented foods were then analysed through microbiome sampling and DNA sequencing, in order to amplify and augment the changes that occur in each subject, through wearable haptic and audio interaction.

It aimed to act as an artistic contribution to current research on the effects of microbiomes on identity, personality and behaviour and explores how a wearable feedback device can allow us to understand this better and respond more empathetically. 

In practice, basically for a 6 week period myself and Roland van Dierendonck ate a specific diet including lactorfermted food first, then aceto-bacterial nutrients, followed by a natto heavy period, one with more fungal fermented products and finally a fermentation overload week to finish. Following an initial baseline sample, we periodically took fecal samples, and through several lab produces including a 18 step extraction, spectrometry and then sending away for 16S geneline sequencing, in order to first see what the data indicated in regards to several loose hypotheses we made about microbiomic assimilation, based on what is often referred to as the Sushi Factor, and while this was all happening we were also working on developing interface solutions and interaction strategies to try and engage people through haptics, towards a more empathetic, but also genuine relationship with their microbiomes. 

Somehow several peripheral studies, experiments and prototypes emerged, including what later became a microbial synthesiser, the art work Fecal Alchemy and also the artwork Same Shit Different Story. The residency also features several ecological field trips and thank to the invaluable advice from Solon Morse, Paul Vanouse and Jens Hauser, many new concepts, ideas and in rather quick successions, several works emerged. 

Other opportunities and mini projects include fermenting over 40 different products that were served as part of the Water Soil Discontent Performative Dinner and Art event by fellow resident Rae Yuping Hsu. A makeshift Taiwanese fusion street food stand was set up as a station for feeding what was somehow a rather ravenous crowd, but also for having many long and deep discussions relating to the residency and its various outcomes.