Exploring the Invisible

Bioluminescent bacteria are widely used in scientific research, usually as internal cellular markers. By inverting this practice and employing bacteria as an external light source, objects and bodies, surfaces and skin are exposed to the soft ethereal glow of the bacteria, establishing new points of contact and visual punctures. What is usually seen under the lens of the microscope is here the source of light that reveals the features of human bodies and enters the world of domesticity.
Exploring the Invisible was a Wellcome Trust funded collaborative project between Artist Anne Brodie, Microbiologist Simon Park, and Writer and Curator Caterina Albano, using a strain of bioluminescent bacteria, Photobacterium phosphoreum, to
explore our ways of interacting with bacteria. Through enquiry and experimentation that transcended the traditional boundaries of art and science, the project developed a body of photographic and video work and live installation that reimagine our encounter with bacteria. The only light used to create the photographs and films came from living bacteria. The images restage the long exposure of the camera lens in the improbable and at times disquieting bioluminescence that gradually fades as the bacteria die.

May 19
Joseph Lister Jan 31st 1866 Laboratory notes. ‘the carbolic acid seems to have been a little too strong’

Joseph Lister Jan 31st 1866 Laboratory notes. ‘the carbolic acid seems to have been a little too strong’


Joseph Lister, ‘library fines’ detail from personal accountbook 1845-1849

Joseph Lister, ‘library fines’ detail from personal accountbook 1845-1849


Sketch by Joseph Lister 1834 aged 7

Sketch by Joseph Lister 1834 aged 7


May 17
University of Surrey. The start of Teacups and Spoon series - see below.

University of Surrey. The start of Teacups and Spoon series - see below.


May 15

'The Last Teaspoon' Simon Park and Anne Brodie


May 8

'Gold teacup' Simon Park and Anne Brodie

Spoons and teacups, items of delivery to the internal body cavity yet always absent from the laboratory.


Apr 21
“A life accumulates a collection of people, work and perplexities. We are all our own curators.” Richard Fortney, Dry Store Room No.1

Apr 17

The photographs below were all created using a bacterial light source.  They are part of the medical contents of ‘Box7’, a box kept out of sight containing objects deemed unsuitable for showing or handling at the Old Operating Theatre in London.

Part of St Thomas Hospital, built in the roof space of St Thomas Church around 1822, the Operating Theatre was originally used to operate on the women patients from Dorcas ward. The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints as, without antiseptic conditions, bacterial infections ruled out internal operations.

With thanks to Karen Howell, the Curator.







Apr 11
box 7

box 7


Apr 10
Spanish matchbox collection 1977.
Cause of death - lung cancer.

Spanish matchbox collection 1977.

Cause of death - lung cancer.