On Thursday the 15th of May at 10am, our resident artist and microbiome researcher Professor Francois-Joseph Lapointe will give a talk at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (specifically in Auditoriet ved Mediekunst, Kongens Nytorv 1, Copenhagen). Everyone is welcome to attend for what promises to be a fascinating talk on the intersection of art, science and the bacteria that lives on and inside us! You can also read more about the performance ‘1000 handshakes’ that he will perform while in Copenhagen in May here.

Here is the abstract for the talk:

Art, science and prokaryotes: Researching and experimenting with bacterial life around us and inside us

As far as we know, the vast majority of life is invisible to the naked eye. Bacteria, viruses, and numerous other microscopic organisms are, by far, more abundant than the sum of all macroscopic life forms. The so-called prokaryotes – or microbes – are everywhere. They live on us, inside us and around us. Every breath we take, every move we make, every hand we shake, they are watching us. Scientists have recently discovered that only 10% of the cells making up our body are human cells; the remaining 90% are bacterial cells. More strikingly, 99% of our genes are of bacterial origins. Whereas the human genome defines what we are as a species, the corresponding human microbiome now redefines the concept of self. As a scientist, I am studying the microbiome in order to detect novel types of interactions among bacterial communities. As an artist, I am interested in visual representations of the microbiome, as a way of depicting the complex dynamics of our multiple identities. To do so, I use my body as a canvas, and I monitor the transformation of my own microbiome in various experimental conditions. In this talk, I will present several ongoing projects on microbiome selfies (portraits of my microbiome self), and I will discuss the consequences of microbiome research with respect to the definition of Homo sapiens.

Art, science and prokaryotes smallProfessor LaPointe’s visit is supported by his SSHRC grant, by a DIVA Award from the Danish Arts Foundation and the Danish Arts Council, and by the Section for Science Communication of the NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Medical Museion.

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