Bodies & bacteria

Sonja Bäumel's Metabodies found that it's not just our genes that differentiate us from others, but also our bacteria.

Sonja Bäumel has explored the unexpected diversity found on the human body by investigating billions of bacteria living and growing on the skin.

Interaction designer Bäumel’s Metabodies project seeks to make the hidden diversity of a person’s ecosystem visible. She tested two subjects’ left hand prints in three specially prepared petri dishes; once after athletic activity, once after sex and once fresh out of the shower. Over a period of eight days, Bäumel captured the impressions by taking hourly photographs to document the bacterium development and growth process.

Metabodies focuses much of its attention on the bacteria communication in order to better understand how our bodies interconnect with the environment. Bäumel captured the exchange of chemical substances, which takes place when bacteria are present in sufficient numbers. The different organisms created for the project began to glow and provided a completely new way of looking at a body’s bacteria.

The unique project proved to Bäumel that people not only differ from one another genetically but also bacterially.

Metabodies is currently on display at Ars Electronica Center’s new exhibition, Project Genesis in Austria. 

Watch the Talk with Sonja Bäumel