Thousands of ants visited Waag on June 3rd, under the supervision of German artist, audiovisual naturalist and ant lover Kuai Shen. Kuai Shen introduced us to his practice and interaction with ants with [ant]ibiotica in the workshop DIY Antibiotics #2: grow [ant]ibiotica*.
During this hands-on workshop participants were introduced to the role that ants can play in the public-health challenges modern medicine is facing regarding the control of antibiotic resistance. Participants were invited to contribute to a living observatory. This event was part of the DIY Antibiotics workshop series, in which we prototype and test alternative strategies to counter the antibiotics crisis.
DIY Antibiotics #2: grow [ant]ibiotica*
Kuai Shen introduced his leaf-cutter ant colony and revealed their complex life and mutualisms hidden in their fungi-cultural garden. We learned how to interact with ants and how they have become models for science and technology, as well as inspiration for artistic practices. Participants could search for antibiotic producing bacteria in different parts of the ant colony and offer a sample of their own sweat and/or saliva to analyze and identify potential partnerships between ant and human microbiota. These samples were incubated on petri dishes to create a living observatory which will host a diverse collection of different microorganisms from human and ant kind coexisting together. You could take home the produced samples in order to create a time-lapse photographic documentation of this experimental antibiotic micro-ecology.
*[ant]ibiotica is a new work commissioned by the Arts Catalyst which Kuai Shen is developing as a biologically mediated installation. It is inspired by the mutualism of bacteria, parasites, fungi and ants, which produce antibiotics to control infections and viruses.