Installation by J. Vaitkutė and Young VU Researchers Featuring the Invisible World of Vilnius Microorganisms

MicrosoftTeams image 2The artist Jolita Vaitkutė Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM 2021, a team of young researchers at the Vilnius University (VU) invite all to take a look at the world of microorganisms, something that is not typically visible to the naked eye, in the installation MicroMoment, which will be put on display at Vilnius museum as of September 8.

The artistic-educational installation MicroMoment features colonies of microorganisms from different locations around Vilnius, contained in nearly 500 airtight petri dishes.

‘Recently, we have become convinced that it is very important to educate the public in our environment and life sciences. As the field that we represent -- synthetic biology -- is rather young, we want to introduce people to one of the principal tools of this science, microorganisms.

With this installation, we want to showcase how versatile they are: just like humans, they have their unique looks, perform different functions, and are spread across different locations. While we benefit from some, others do us harm. We definitely have to find ways to co-exist,’ saystheVilnius-Lithuania iGEMteam.

The artist Jolita Vaitkutė says she agreed to work with the young researchers for the chance to use unusual media -- microorganisms -- in the creative process.

‘I had once thought of painting with bacteria due to their unpredictable nature, but then I abandoned the idea. I am excited to have been invited by the Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team and to have been given this opportunity to dive into invisible micro-worlds,’ saysthe artist.

‘I have marveled at getting to know this world: I had a petri dish with bacteria at home and would watch the microorganisms on it undergo transformation every day. Not everyone has a chance to get to know them this up close. Now I have a deeper understanding of the environment that surrounds us,’ says Vaitkutė. ‘While working with the Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team, I realised that us, humans, are basically public transportation for various microbes, carrying them from one place to the next and thus contributing to the ever-shifting image of the microbial world.’

As they explore the installation, visitors will be able to glean insights into microorganisms from various locations around the city of Vilnius, their application in synthetic biology, and connections with each and every one of us.

The MicroMoment installation is part of the cycle of events called The Laboratory of Senses in which the Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM team aims to educate the public in synthetic biology through art.

iGEM, the acronym for International Genetically Engineered Machine, is an annual international academic competition to promote the advancement of synthetic biology. Interdisciplinary teams of university students solve global problems in medicine, food industry, energy, and other relevant fields. One part of the competition is to educate and engage the public through different activities. The VU team won this competition in 2019 and in 2020.

The installation is on display in Vilnius Museum at Vokiečių g. 6. The entrance to the museum is on Mėsinių street.