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Photographic Art Created With Bacteria Found In Public Places And Body Parts

By Hanssie on February 12th 2015

If you are even the slightest bit germaphobic, you may want to skip this article…

A Photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found on an ATM

A Photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found on an ATM

I once watched a video in my middle school science class about the billions of microorganisms living on and around us; I have never been the same. I’ve willed myself to forget the fact that the world is a breeding ground of germs and bacteria, otherwise my brain might explode.

Cosmos is a photo series by photographer Marcus DeSieno, where he swabs bacteria from locations “both ubiquitous and exotic,” such as hotel hot tubs, ATMs, restaurants and human orifices, and then breeds them on the photographic film. Taken from NASA archives, the original images are converted into film slides. He  then spreads the bacteria onto the slide and lets the little creatures breed, eating away at the emulsion and film.

As the bacteria grow and multiply, they interact with the film, altering it, stripping away color layers, and slowly disintegrating the archaic media into an unpredictable abstraction of color and texture.

The final step is scanning the film, which in effect kills the bacterial playground in the process. A complete circle of creation and destruction, a process, Marcus says, that is “tied to the very fabric of existence itself.



A Photograph of the Little Dumbbell Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on My Gym’s 20-Pound Dumbbells


A Photograph of a Barred Lenticular Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found in My Belly Button


A Photograph of the Planet Venus Eaten by Bacteria Found Inside of a Vagina

Perhaps it was his childhood phobia of germs and other microscopic creatures that caused Marcus’ fascination with bacteria and parasites (see our article featuring his tin type parasites here), and as he finds various strains of bacteria to experiment with, he is confronting his fears head on…and destroying them. Literally.

Marcus tells Feature Shoot that, “the project is a means of gaining control, an exercise done in part to assuage the dread and feelings of remoteness that come with the knowledge of the vastness of the universe.


A Photograph of a Hydrogen Gas Cloud Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Gas Station Pump


A Photograph of a Star Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found on My iPhone’s Screen


A Photograph of the Whirlpool Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found in a Motel’s Heart-Shaped Hot Tub



A Photograph of the Pleiades Star Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Public Bathroom’s Door Handle

Marcus’ images are both beautiful and mesmerizing in its abstract colors and swirls, but disturbing at the same time, knowing that the images created were from the work of the unseen creatures around us.

To see more of Marcus’ work, check out his website here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sanitize everything with anti-bacterial soap.

CREDITS : Photographs by Marcus DeSieno have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

[Via Laughing Squid]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Peter Nord

    What percentage of a human body is bacteria? Just a quick look in the web found: North Carolina State University, the Belly Button Biodiversity study found about 1,400 different strains of bacteria living in the navels of 95 participants. Of these, 662 strains were previously unrecognized.

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  2. Jason Boa

    Original if nothing else !

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  3. Bogdan Roman

    looks like painting on acid… just amazing

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  4. Tanya Goodall Smith

    Amazing…and nasty.

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  5. James Rogen

    i once tried to take a photo of a petri dish using a macro lens in the biology lab at my school, but i ended up knocking the petri dish over and getting progeria. be careful when photographing unknown substances

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  6. Raoni Franco

    I usually find this type of experiment quite stupid, but the results of this one are very interesting, to say the least. I really don´t care about the mambo-jambo about the microscopic creatures, fear, destruction iada iada iada…..but, again, the results are quite interesting. Thanks.

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  7. Michael Old

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Anyone can find beauty in anything if you look at it in the right way, from form and color, to processes and mechanisms involved.

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