Bernardo Pollak, a PhD student in the Department of Plant Sciences, collected and cultured diverse bioluminescent marine bacteria on surfing trips around the world and in 2015 was awarded £5000 from the SynBio Fund to sequence the light producing genes from over 20 such bacteria in partnership with fellow PhD student Anton Kan. Together they started work to turn them into reliable and useful markers for synthetic biology.
Enter Victoria Geaney, a conceptual fashion designer who had been exploring synthetic biology, fluorescent proteins and bioluminescence in her work. After meeting Bernardo at a SynBio SRI Seminar, together they created Lo Lamento: a living fashion installation featuring a dress and glowing orbs which were either entirely covered with or contained flowing tubes of media (agar substrate, and sea water and yeast medium) and the bacteria Photobacterium Kishitanni, which created an eerie blue glow. Victoria describes the work as providing:
"an interesting vision for the future and could see fashion becoming biological, where we might one day grow ‘living light’ garments for future fashions, wearing living garments and growing bacteria to make our own clothes."
The exhibit was shown as part of The E-Luminate Festival at Jesus College, Cambridge, in February.
The full Design Exchange article can be found here >>>