Bacteria Hysteria

Among the earliest creatures that occupy the Earth, bacteria proves to be more than microscopic attribute in our lives. It entices the creative class to engineer them into a state-of-the-art embodiment.

The meeting of art and science, two strayed yet similar field on complicatedness level, is likely to produce pieces that are even more difficult to understand. A different case, so it breathes, when it comes to growing bacteria as an artistic-induced experiment. As one of the earliest life forms that exists on earth, bacteria plays wisdom roles: both life supporter and disease carrier. In each project, however, that downside of bacteria is plugged out and instead, aesthetic means are injected. These scientific artists seem to know what they are doing.

Maison Martin Margiela

margiela 1997 exhibition

margiela 1997 exhibition 2

The Belgium born, Paris established designer, Margiela is always being a genius in avant-garde fashion without screaming it out loud. His low profile swifts in unparallel manner with his excellence in clothes innovation. In 1997, from June to August to be exact, Margiela held his first exhibition in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam. He exhibited 18 clothes in whites, creams, and greys from his previous collections (1989, the year he started his atelier, until 1997) and collaborated with a Dutch microbiologist to grow various bacteria, yeast, and mould on each piece of clothing. All were then isolated during the exhibition until the process is done, and resulted in clothes transformation. Deceiving and decaying.


Julia Lohmann



The German designer manages to migrate petri dishes from the hygienic, disclosed laboratory to a more flashy stage for her artwork installation. She arranges a woman body silhouette using 9,000 petri dishes, each contains a living bacteria image, in an array of colours. Although the artists herself has been known to befriend provocative and undervalued materials, this time something even closer to human is designed accurately. Co-Existence, it was named, was manifested in 2009. Its vibrancy filled the front of London’s Wellcome Trust, a health research foundation.


Erdem Kiziltoprak

Erdem Kiziltoprak

erdem kiziltoprak bacteria

Graduation pledges more than just knowledge absorption and proof of intellectual skills, for Erdem Kiziltoprak breaks the boundaries between fashion and science in an industrious work of pouring bacteria onto textile for his graduation project. He aims to visualise the life and growth of bacteria, which is usually invisible to the naked eyes, by composing 3D print on silk. The process involves Kiziltoprak developing his own bacteria population and employing several techniques such as abstract drawings, rusting, 3D crafts, origami, knitting, and rapid prototyping to mimic the bacteria shapes. The ambition to produce second skin to human goes literal, with living bacteria really grows on the fabric.

So, is it the bacteria that grows or is it human whose mind is overflowed with creations? We might have to prepare wearing bacteria on our sleeves, in anticipating future second skin. Or we might have to bear with our own cells grown somewhere else, only to be returned back home.

Text: Gabriela Yosefina.
Sources: Contemporary Fashion Archive, Julia Lohmann’s personal site and Smithsonian’s blog, Fashioning Technology.