A region, area, stretch of land, or section characterized by some distinctive feature, purpose, or quality. An area subject to a particular political, military, or government function, use, or jurisdiction. A demilitarized zone. An area subject to particular restrictions. One of the divisions of the earth’s surface. A distinctive layer or region of rock, characterized by particular fossils. An area, especially a belt of land, having a particular flora and fauna determined by the prevailing environmental conditions. A portion of a sphere between two parallel planes intersecting the sphere. A time zone. A girdle or belt. A sphere of tho ught, disagreement, argument.
Shores of the Anthropocene
Living material is collected from various environments of »The Zone« including soil, water, air, and biofilms. With time against us, we decided to retrace our steps and head back to the mainland. The tide was approaching swiftly, the waters of the Firth of Forth rising steadily. I felt that the decrepit state of things precisely reflected my own state of mind. It was cold out on the causeway, with intermittent rain showers and a blustery wind. I remained there for a while, incapable of leaving, constricted like the water as it enters the drift of reeds, unhurriedly, thickening, transformed. I looked back at the mainland from the island. The edge of the sea is an enigmatic and extraordinary place. For no two consecutive days is the shoreline precisely the same. The tides progress and retreat in their timeless rhythms, the sea is not ever at rest, never at ease.
I think about the life forms that inhabit tidal zones, far beyond just the human ones. I start to wonder: What does cohabitation mean in an era of many urgencies with accelerating rates of species extinctions? What is the association between capitalist devastation and annihilation, and collaborative survival within multispecies landscape? What is the prerequisite for sustaining all life on Earth? What lies beneath the surface and the soil?
What enigmas and nightmares lie beneath the palpable?
Constructing Microcosms, Microbial Gardens
April 25, 2019
Back in the laboratory, we decided to construct devices for culturing a large diversity of microorganisms, unique miniature microbial ecosystems or microbial gardens, reusing the collected habitat.
In the 1880s, Russian microbiologist Sergei Winogradsky studied the complex interactions between environmental conditions and microbial activities using soil enrichment to isolate pure bacterial cultures within laboratory glass column to gain an understanding of how microorganisms occur in nature. The structure of a microbial community is the result of environmental factors, evolutionary processes, and neutral or stochastic processes. Once prepared, the column is a self-sustaining, enclosed ecosystem dependent only on input of light as an exogenous energy source. Much like a gardener tending to his plants, providing the finest conditions for a plant species to grow, a column provides a rich environment for microbes to grow, or bloom, as a lush population. One column provides a whole range of environments in one small setting, a microcosm enabling many types of organisms with different requirements to grow in different sections of the column. The prepared columns were observed over several months for development of layers, smell, colors, and zones.
Observation after five months…
September 29, 2019
As the microbes in the soil photosynthesize pigments, we are exposed to the processes of growth and decomposition of various species of bacteria within this ecosystem, with variations in populations observed through waves of color. Incubating the column in available light for (several) several months results in an aerobic/anaerobic gradient as well as a sulfide gradient.
The aerobic as well as the anaerobic gradients along with the additive nutrients allow for the growth and flourishing of various microorganisms such as Chlorobium, Chromatium, Beggiatoa, Desulfovibrio as well as Rhodomicrobium. In addition to the aforementioned organisms, we can also see the growth of several more species of bacteria, along with algae and cyanobacteria8. The water rapidly becomes anoxic towards the interface of the mud and water. We can still find anaerobic phototrophs9 in the mud phase, and there is a capacity for the creation of biofilms as well as colony expansion. We see a prominent green growth in the upper sections of some of the columns, and this denotes the presence of algae and other types of aerobic phototrophs.
April 27, 2019