cartography of the human body

2010/11 || sonja bäumel in collaboration
           with erich schopf


This project explores skin bacteria on a human body and the bacteria absorbed on November 11, 2010 in a specific area of Vienna, Austria.
In a period of eight month the skin bacteria of one specific day were collected, analysed and documented. The bacteria were bred, partially reanimated and kept alive at -70 °C. In the framework of an interaction study, experiments were made to study the bacteria’s hierarchies. Weak bacteria were applied first on the body to guarantee their unhindered growth and to achieve the desired colours on the bacteria image. The natural layer of bacteria on the protagonist’s skin was removed and then with an especially developed technique replaced by the studied layer of bacteria. After applying the invisible bacteria colour on her body, the body was imprinted on the textile and agar, the nutritious substance for encouraging bacteria to grow. As soon as the bacteria visibly grew, their growth was stopped and the actual state was documented with a body print.
Every visible point on the bacteria image has special significance and represents a thought process or experiment. Bäumel and Schopf create an image of a real invisible moment and want to highlight the existing invisible infrastructure surrounding all of us.


Photography (pic.2) by Georg Schenk