Bacterial iridescence is an elusive, extra-ordinary phenomenon with something vital to show us
in these precarious times. A unique natural occurrence in which self organization within
bacterial colonies results in the creation of living photonic crystals, bacterial iridescence relies
on a coming together, an organised signal arising out of the noise of disarray, visible as the
bending of light. This phenomenon demonstrates that a microscopic, reductive view alone
cannot account for what a bigger picture and a change of perspective affords us. Seeking to
span diverse perspectives, scales and media by working directly with bacterial iridescence, this
research project asks — how can we design with biological life?
Articulating and making tangible the tensions implicit in navigating the digital through the
biological (and vice versa), this diffractive practice aims to understand the phenomenon of
bacterial iridescence both at macro and micro scales. The project involves visualising and
materializing the differences that emanate from its own relationships with substrate, light,
technological apparatuses and other organisms to reveal bacterial iridescence as a uniquely
emergent, influencing phenomenon.
Lucie Ketelsen is a designer and sustainability researcher. Her practice considers notions of risk
and control in digital, automated and industrial textile production and through subverting
traditional practices with unlikely processes and materials.
Ketelsen has a Masters in Textile Design by practice-based research from RMIT University,
Melbourne and a Bachelor of Fine Art with Honors in Design. She is currently undertaking a
research residency at SymbioticA UWA, looking into the growth of biological structural colour.