Sonja Bäumel
Expanded Self

Sonja Bäumel, supported by the bacteriologist Erich Schopf, has found a unique way of visualizing the invisible surface of the human body. She uses a gigantic petri dish as canvas and the bacteria living on her own body as colour.

The artist develops and speaks a language combining art and science and thus creates a biologically living full-body picture.

After the application of the invisible bacteria colour on the body, the body is imprinted on agar, the nutritive substance for bacteria, which is first filled into a huge petri dish (210cmx 80 cm). After a few days, a living landscape is growing. It consists of a unique mixture of life forms on Sonja Bäumel’s body on a certain day, in a certain Viennese area. With this project, she wants to highlight the existing invisible infrastructure.

Expanded Self, the living and growing picture of a body, was photographed and documented on the seventh day of growth. This imprint of a human body is a kind of metaphor for new points of view of our person. Everyone of us is so much more than we think. If we merge the genetic material of all our inhabitants it comprises ten times more information than our own DNA. We are only beginning to understand how this astonishing community of different life forms works on and in us and lets us work coevally.


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