The Art and Science of Linen
Cultural history and biology collide in this video artwork created by artists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May. With the aid of microbiologist Dr. John Paul, Dumitriu and May trace methods of linen production from the late nineteenth century and locate the precise culture of bacteria integral to this production.
In “Le Microbiologie du Sol,” an influential text by pioneering microbiologist Sergei Winogradsky, the bacterium Clostridium pasteurianum is located as the prime bacterial culture responsible for the process of separating flax fibres from plant stems in linen production. May and Dumitriu build from this discovery in the above video, recreating the process to exemplify methods of production.
This video can be seen as an act of preservation, with the focus on the textures of antique linens made from natural and cultivated resources a desire to uphold historical production and design traditions. The cultural importance the video places on this process of linen creation exhibits a disconnect with synthetic fibres used in contemporary clothing and textile design, demonstrating a rich artistic and biological history that synthetic fibres lack.
Dumitriu and May are both artists whose art works focus on the blurred boundaries between art, science, and new technologies. By using a range of untraditional artistic mediums, such as bacteria, robotics, textiles, and digital media, both artists seek to demonstrate the perception of technology and reality.
For more information about The Art and Science of Linen, please visit Alex May’s website here.
- Victoria Nolte