Surfaces, Edges and Boundaries

By Emily Grieve

Luke Phyogeny[1]Photo by Jo Hodges & Robbie Coleman

Over the last few weeks artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman have been exploring a wide range of avenues and are gradually beginning to narrow down their points of interest. From exploring parasites in the ‘real world’ to viruses and virulence.

The Artists began by meeting with Luke McNally discussing bacterial predictions and the different tools bacteria use to create a niche to infect new hosts.”Some produce antibiotics that kill other bacteria, some have internal viruses as weapons, releasing them when they are in a host and wiping the commensal bacteria out…”
-Luke McNall

“Luke talked about his work looking at predicting risk factors for the bacteria that may evolve more niche constructing traits, allowing then to jump into humans from other host species.’’ –Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman

Next Amy Panderson and her group talked of their research of co-infection by multiple parasites and the interaction between parasites….”We were interested in this approach, as studying populations in this context, seemed to us, important in recognizing the complexities of real world interactions and relationships.’’-Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman

Liam Brierley who works in both Amy Pederson and Mark Woolhouse’s group met with Jo and Robbie at a later stage and gave the artists an understanding of how host ranges affect virus dynamics and what you can predict from knowing what type of animals can act as hosts. “We were interested in talking to Liam as he is using already existing data in his work… Since the advent of computers powerful enough to process large amounts of data, new ways carrying out research have opened up using computers as research tools and we were interested to explore the variety of research at the CIIE’”-Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman

The artists went on to meet with Sujai who works within Mark Blaxter’s group. He is a bioinfomatician working with data from the genome sequencing* process to make it accessible and usable by biologists and other researchers. He is currently working on creating a genomic resource for biologists on butterflies and moths. “Sujai was fantastic at explaining the concepts behind genome sequencing in a way that was easily understandable. He explained that many biologists study one or a few genes however Sujai and others in the Blaxter Lab are working with the whole DNA of an organism. The genome is the DNA in its entirety ie all the chromosomes… It was interesting to find out that much of the work at the centre is published online and is available to everyone.’’ -Jo Hodges & Robbie Coleman
Staphylococcus_aureus_bacteria[1]Photo by Jo Hodges & Robbie Coleman

*genome sequencing is a laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome at a single time.

Jo and Robbie also had a meeting with Bram van Bunnik from the Epidemiology Research Group. Bram works specifically with network modelling and explained to the artists his study of the spread of infection within hospital acquired infection especially his work on the spread of MRSA.

The Artists have continued to look at this a little deeper bringing the very human and social side of the CIIE into their artistic research especially looking at how hospitals create the perfect environment for pathogens to spread. ”We also read that MRSA can survive on polyester for up to 56 days – the very thing hospital screens are made of!!’’-Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman

The physical environment of the hospital has become a particular point of interest for artists Jo and Robbie. Gaining an understanding of how diseases spread and an understanding of the boundaries between species being more permeable than you may think. “The gaps and spaces and surfaces between us and within us are not empty, but are teeming with life’’-Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman

The last few weeks have been a journey of discovery for Jo and Robbie and there is now only one month left until their work and the work from Mark Doyle and Anne Milne will showcase at the Lower Church Galleries, Summerhall. Come along to see how these surfaces, edges, boundaries and bacterial predictions manifest themselves in the final work.

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