Bacteria are being projected onto the Colosseum in Rome with a ZEISS microscope
Due to her fascination about the hidden world of microorganisms and bacteria, the artist Sabine Kacunko started her art project “Invincible” at the Colosseum in Rome. She takes bacteria samples from the building’s protective layer, the patina. With a ZEISS Axio Imager microscope, she observes them and projects the amazing images onto the Colosseum, covering an area of 1.400 square meters. These bacteria protect the building against environmental influences and thus contribute to the conservation of the famous Colosseum. From September 17 through 19, you can watch this project, which is supported by ZEISS and was started in connection with the International Year of Light 2015.
Light is a basic condition for life – for humans, animals, plants and microorganisms. In her project Invincible, Sabine Kacunko reflects the light-conditioned origins and transformations of life by using innovative technology to spotlight the nature of bacteria in the context of the World’s heritage and health.
The Colosseum, or Coliseum is well known, it is the largest amphitheatre in the world and an iconic symbol of the ancient and present Rome – the eternal city. As the world-wide icon of cultural heritage, it will be illuminated by a huge light-installation projecting live the bacterial biofilm (patina) on its most exposed northwest side. This recently restored spot of ca. 1.400 m2 carefully takes into account daylight and season´s light situations as well as the topography and traffic conditions. Together, they all allow a whole-time illumination of the chosen spot which can be seen from Via Imperiale all the way along to Piazza Venetia.
A sample of patina – the natural organic film – will be removed from the surface of the building and placed under a microscope. The connected projectors transmit the images, preferably in real time, on the extern surface of the object from which the patina has been removed. For a moment the ‘secret’ microcosm of the patina emerges from the darkness into the light. The metabolism of the microorganisms produces substances of sediments – pigments – that create intense compositions of constantly changing and different lights and colours. The illuminated object becomes a ‘Living Light Sculpture’. In this way the patina in the dark appears as what it really is: a colourful world of pigments arising from the sediments of the microorganisms. The simultaneous multimedia presentation of microcosm and macrocosm creates on the surfaces parallel worlds that usually remain hidden in daily life. The quintessence of invincible is the celebration of life and its basic condition: transformation or metamorphosis.
The illumination happens not only on a conceptual and visual level (illumination of a public building through live video projections) but also on that material by integrating and visualising the microorganisms that equip the essential artistic instrument with a model of communication and social forms that are intelligent and capable to survive. The microorganisms protect the monumental good from destruction being evoked by the harmful environmental influences and secure in this way the transmission of our cultural memory. The project invincible stands as an example of lasting global cooperation in the conservation of cultural assets and natural resources. It intends to shed light on the processes of democratization, the concepts of sustainability as well as the ecological and economical structures investigating the complex relation between man and nature is presented to the local audience – and to world via Internet.
- Homepage of the project INVINCIBLE
- Homepage Studio Sabine Kacunko
- Article by The Guardian
- YouTube channel of Sabine Kacunko with live-streams and recordings
- Homepage of the 2015 International Year of Light
INVINCIBLE is scientifically accompanied and supported by Dr. Volker Brinkmann (Max Planck Institute, Berlin), Prof. Giovanni Antonini (Institute of Biology, Univ. Roma Tre), Prof. Thomas Bjarnsholt and Michael Larsen (Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen), Prof. Slavko Kacunko (Department of Arts and Cultural Studies (IKK), University of Copenhagen), the MICRO HUMAN NPO, Berlin, among others.
Texts and images reproduced with kind permission by Studio Sabine Kacunko, 2015.