Current Work

Complex Community from Lauren Sharpton on Vimeo.

Project Description / Complex Community

Microbiomes are complex communities in which a diverse assortment of microorganisms coexist in an ecological landscape. This organic entity is dynamic; as the environmental conditions change so to does the composition and the diversity of the microbiome.

Complex Community is an interactive artwork designed to aesthetically demonstrate through participation the ecological principles of community assembly and succession, biodiversity, and carrying capacity. Upon approaching the artwork, viewers will be prompted to participate by:

1. Picking one of a variety of oil pastels.
2. Drawing one gesture, line, or shape of any size at any location on a 24” x 36” clayboard.

After each viewer makes their mark and photograph will be captured to document the change that occurs.

Each user contributes to a changing artistic landscape that abstractly represents how microbiomes change over time.

This artwork includes an in-gallery experience wherein users participate in the creation and transformation of the art. This empowers people to make art and provides an experiential learning opportunity; participants physically contribute to the diversification of the complex image that the community creates. There also exists an out-of-gallery experience that catalogs how the art piece changed over the course of its existence. This is similar to the methods scientists use to study how microbiomes change over time. Ultimately, Complex Communities leverages the diversity of gallery patrons to provide an educational context about fundamental processes relevant to microbiomes.

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