At Dublin’s Science Gallery, artists and cheesemakers lovingly harvested human microbes and cultured them into several delicious-looking but mentally off-putting wheels of cheese. The cheeses are part of an exhibition called Selfmade, which celebrates the diversity of life found in and on our own bodies. Each of the eleven cheeses, collected with a sterile swab from various artists and scientists’ body parts, represents a unique microbial landscape, they say, including tears, a belly button, the inside of a man’s nose and a mouth.
Here, the artists explain their work’s methodology:
Isolated microbial strains were identified and characterised using microbiological techniques and 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing. Like the human body, each cheese has a unique set of microbes that metabolically shape a unique odour. Cheese odours were sampled and characterised using headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis, a technique used to identify and/or quantify volatile organic compounds present in a sample.