This project aims to research and experiment with growing pigments using different bacteria. This innovative technique is at the forefront of research and currently only used by a handful of researchers and artists. Growing bacteria in order to dye or print on fabrics opens up new avenues for chemical-free textile dyeing. These new techniques would also enable textiles—at the end of their lifespan—to become nutrients again and return safely to the ecosystem after use. This integrates and reinforces the principle that waste equals food (McDonough & Braungart, 2013). The project will include experimenting with diverse bacteria in the Speculative Life BioLab and finding new ways of incorporating bacteria dyeing into textile design. This knowledge is meant to be shared broadly considering the strong interest in finding alternatives to synthetic pigments. Bacterial pigments, due to their better biodegradability and higher compatibility with the environment, offer promising avenues for various applications (Kulandaisamy Venil, Zakaria & Ahmad, 2013).
The Bactinctorium project is supported by a grant awarded to Alexandra Bachmayer and Vanessa Mardirossian, with collaborators WhiteFeather Hunter and Gen Moisan, by the Textiles and Materiality Research Cluster, Milieux Institute through the student grants program. This project builds on existing research that has developed over the past nine months, led by WhiteFeather Hunter at the Speculative Life BioLab, in experimenting with pigment-producing bacteria types.
Researchers (from left): Alexandra Bachmayer (BFA Design and Computation Arts student); Vanessa Mardirossian (PhD INDI student); WhiteFeather Hunter (Speculative Life BioLab PI); Geneviève Moisan (Affiliate Researcher)