Friday, May 6, 2011

Laboratory Tape Collage

While I was in college, I had a work-study job at one of the research laboratories on campus. It was a very sleek, newly renovated, state-of-the-art microbiology lab which received millions of dollars in private and federal grants to conduct on-going genetic research on geobacter sulfurreducens- an anaerobic bacteria found in river beds which produce tiny amounts of electricity as a byproduct of their cellular respiration. This Geobacter species has the ability to transfer electrons onto the surface of electrodes, which has made it possible to design novel microbial fuel cells which can efficiently convert waste organic matter to electricity. Post-doctoral scientists from around the world worked in this lab, as well a many microbiology students eager for the opportunity to assist in such ground-breaking research.


I got this work study job through one of my friends. At the university, you are not required to be a microbiology student to work in the labs. So me being a Communications major, I found it a completely fantastically foreign environment to work in.

 I started off in the lab's dish room, collecting dirty glass ware and waste from the labs, washing, and redistributing various flasks, graduated cylinders, and beakers back into the labs. In addition, a majority of my time was spent processing the stacks upon stacks of dirty 10mL test tubes and 150mL bottles used in experiments.

Since the majority of these experiments required anaerobic materials, all the tubes and bottles were capped with rubber stoppers and sealed with aluminum crimps. And since there were so many variations and reactions being tested, each tube usually had one, two, or three different colored tape labels. Sometimes I would just sit there for two hours, peeling the tape off old test tubes and throwing this tape in the trash. But after a while, my artistic itch got the best of me. I mean, this tape came in all colors of the rainbow, and the pieces of it I was discarding had each scientist's unique scribbles on it.

The last time I took a chemistry class was back in high school, and so some of the terminology written on these tubes and used throughout the laboratory was kind of interesting when taken out of context. I found phrases like, "Dying and advancing cultures" , "Too acid?", and anything involving "media" interesting as a Communications major.

So I began waiting until the end of my shifts to begin "de-stickering" old test tubes, and instead of throwing it away I would make little tape collages. I decided to post some pictures of the first collages I did in which I only used the tape from old test tubes. When I was finished with a particular design I would laminate the entire piece with clear packing tape. The result would be an interesting collage of colors and scrambled up bits of words, symbols, and numbers. I wanted to treat what ever was written on the tape as just another texture or material, and create a more abstract rendering of the tireless work the scientists were putting in on a daily basis.

Often the scientists would come into the dish room while I was making these collages and talk to me about what each label meant in the context of their experiments. But since I was not very science-minded,  their words came out sounding a lot  like what my collages looked like:

15 comments:

  1. really creative sticker thingies, those anaerobic bacteria sound interesting to work with

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  2. XD Loved your closing statement. Very creative way of using your resources. I love 'em!

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  3. wow, very nice work there!

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  4. thats brilliant, very creative
    followed

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  5. That's pretty creative. Way better than them going in the garbage!

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  6. Artistic minds always surprise me, taking something so mundane and turning it into art. Very cool

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  7. Very cool. Speaking of science, they look like amoebas.

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  8. ohhh damn, another one. These are dope!

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  9. Very cool. It sounds like you are just a very creative person

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