A Blueprint for Bacterial Life

A current collaborative research project started in 2004, with Scientists from the Scottish Crop Research Institute: Dr Ian Toth and Dr Leighton Pritchard. It involves representational scientific data, visual art and sound, and whether a Science-Art fusion can move the boundaries of visual and audio interpretation.

The full genome sequence of the bacterial potato plant pathogen (Erwinia) carotovora subsp. atroseptica (Eca) has been fully sequenced in a project led by the Scottish Crop Research Institute in collaboration with the Sanger Institute. Shemilt developed a series of prints in 2005 from the scientific data and subesquently animations in two and three dimensions for projection. The artistic re-interpretation of scientific data has contributed to new insights. Rather than simply identifying genes unique tom a pathaogen, the screen prints and animations revealed the presence of other genes present in all of the bacteria, possibly representing genes essential to all forms of bacteria. The pilot stages of the project were funded by a grant from the Mylnefield Trust.

The work has been exhibited and has also been the subject of lectures at international conferences:
Singapore Biopolis Centre (14th January 2006); Visual Research Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts (16th March 2006); International Erwinia Workshop, Dundee (7-9th July 2006); International Conference on Plant Pathogenic Bacteria, Edinburgh (10-14 July 2006); 22nd CHArt Annual Conference, Birkbeck College University of London (10th November 2006).

Further prints, Hi-Defintion animations and music sequences have been developedin.



"A Blueprint For Bacterial Life –
Can a Science-Art fusion move the boundaries of visual and audio interpretation? "

Peer-reviewed paper and presentation for the 22nd CHArt Annual Conference:
"FAST FORWARD, Art History, Curation and Practice After Media"
Birkbeck College University of London
10th November 2006

click for download of a full pdf file of the Paper


For samples click image:


click image for QuickTime movie (1.9Mb)








Blueprint, HiDefinition projection (1920x1080 pixels)
Visual Research Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts ( March 2006)



Still Frames from Blueprint Movie