Shareable Biome

Exploring a sharing community within an individualistic culture

Using data from bacterial research lab OpenBiome, we are creating a series of drawings, interactive data visualization, video, and lecture performances which explore the geographic and cultural diffusion of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) — a radical life-saving probiotic procedure. OpenBiome's alchemical endeavors are vital practices for building a culture of communal health. The project leverages the importance of the conservation of microbial diversity as a potent analogy for a multitude of cultural struggles. This body of work will is part of the year-long exhibition LMAO - Humor in Data opening in January at the Open Data Institute in London, UK.

On the left is a visualization of infection. The study is accomplished through time lapse animation of growing bacteria. Skin bacteria was deposited onto a map of the continental United States to show areas where infection risk is high and to visualize bacteria with actual bacteria. The fecal transplant has been shown to be 90% effective for treating at least one deadly monoculture infection (CDI). What social factors prohibit the diffusion of this therapy?

Below are visualizations of gut bacterial ecologies of OpenBiome's FMT donors. OpenBiome shared the counts of each bacteria species in each of the donors’ guts. The data was run through machine learning algorithms to find 10 patterns in the relationships of bacteria to each other across the donor collective. Each color represents one of the 10 identified patterns.

Sphinctographs (gut bacterial ecologies of 24 Fecal Microbiota Transplant donors)

This work was shown in Philadelphia, New York as part of Pivot (curated by Will Owen), Machine Project in Los Angeles, and RIXC OpenFields conference in Riga, Latvia.

PIVOT exhibition at the Flux Factory photo by Alex Nathason and Sharon Koeblinger