Microbiologist-turned-photographer Zachary Copfer has developed an amazing photo-printing technique that’s very different from any we’ve seen before. Rather than use photo-sensitive papers, chemicals, or ink, Copfer uses bacteria. The University of Cincinnati MFA photography student calls the technique “bacteriography”, which involves controlling bacteria growth to form desired images.
Here’s how Copfer’s method works: he first takes a supply of bacteria like E. coli, turns it into a fluorescent protein, and covers a plate with it. Next, he creates a “negative” of the photo he wants to print by covering the prepared plate with the photo and then exposing it to radiation. He then “develops” the image by having the bacterial grow, and finally “fixes” the image by coating the image with a layer of acrylic and resin.
Using this process, he creates images of things ranging from famous individuals to Hubble telescope photos of galaxies. Copfer writes that his project is intended to be a counterexample to the false dichotomy of art and science.