The Bacteria on Your Smartphone, Now Abstract Bio-Art

February 22, 2013 | Eugene Reznik

Students at the University of Surrey in the UK taking a Practical and Biomedical Bacteriology course imprinted their smartphone screens onto petri dishes with grow media to see what kind of bacteria was lurking. Three days later, they found #art.

The colorized result are not just alluring abstract designs, there are narrative and performative elements as well. While most of the bacteria found was harmless Micrococcus, they also revealed some disease carrying Staphylococcus aureus. “Each phone,” Professor Simon Park says, “tells a story!”

The ecological niche on the body for Staphylococcus aureus is the nostrils, so a furtive pick of the nose, and quick text after, and you end up with this pathogen on your smartphone.