Tools for Biological Foraging 2016

A series of objects that speculate what the future of biological sampling tools might look like.

Our environment includes a ubiquitous yet invisible component: the micro-organisms we cohabitate with. This cohabitation can be very intimate, such as with the bacteria that live in our gut, or more transient, such as the fleeting exchanges with the microbiome of the architectural elements we interact with. Our perception of this living environment is indirect: we must collect these microbes to be able to identify them. The methods for microbial identification have become more precise and more affordable in recent years, which, combined with a surge in interest by the non-scientific public, has led to a number of “citizen science” driven microbiome projects. These range from environmental monitoring (Gowanus) to personal monitoring (ubiome). While the analytical methods are under rapid development and progress the methods for collection remain relatively unchanged, with different methods each introducing a bias, inherent to the use of instrumentation. In this workshop we propose to use rapid prototyping techniques to develop devices for environmental microbiome sampling. These can be very speculative to pragmatic -- we wish to explore just as much the participants perception of this invisible world as manifested by their imaginations as to how to do it.

Taught by Elizabeth Henaff and Miguel Perez at FabCafe, Tokyo, Japan.