Have you ever heard about bioelectrogenesis? Electroactive bacteria (from the genus Geobacter or Shewanella, for example) can transfer electrons to electroconductive materials as a new form of respiration where electricity can be harvested or, additionally, accept electrons from those materials so they can be fed using an electrical current as a source of energy.
The artist Paul Granjon is using this process that carry out bacteria from river sediments to create a set of on-board microbial fuel cells and move several small mobile robots inspired from the dung beetle. According to him, the contrast between the primal nature of mud and the highly technological electronics explores possibilities of symbiosis and highlights the sophistication of the microbes compared to the robot.
We had the opportunity to have a small collaboration in this project, helping to identify the electroactive bacteria present in the river sediments using a metabarcoding approach. It is always interesting to take part in such interdisciplinary projects!!
Do not lose the chance to visit the installation, which is part of the PROTOTIPOAK exhibition, until the 16th of September, in Azkuna Zentroa. There are many other instalations (dried plants which move in response to the movement of the wind in Minnesota, a robot that is creating a photorealistic art piece with one single continuous line, etc.) and related activities (such as the artistic residence of Vanessa Lorenzo about the exploration of the microbial inhabitants in the city).