Elaine WhittakerAMBIENT PLAGUES

A series of mixed media installations made up of sculpture, digital photography, scientific objects, fictional specimens, & live cultured halobacteria in petri dishes.

Ambient Plagues  (2013)

Have you walked out of a pandemic movie lately with the hair raised on the back of your neck? Not because of the throes of flesh eating zombies but because the guy who sat beside you was coughing the whole time? We are surrounded by microbes, are composed of microbes, and we are terrified of them. We live in a porous world, in porous bodies. The possibility of being breached, infected, and losing body integrity is always present. Ambient Plagues is a mixed media installation that explores this invisible world, a world teeming with microbial life, and the possibility of infection.

Microbes are sublime, beautiful, but we can’t see them. They keep us alive, but they can make us sick, even causing death. The art works in Ambient Plagues make them visible. Through sculpture, photography, microscopy, and live bacteria, these artworks blur the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured, what is animate and what is inanimate. Ultimately, they challenge viewers’ perceptions about their bodies, a site that has become trespassed, tainted, and contaminated by a popular culture that escalates social anxiety and terror of microbes, by artificially creating a sense of bioparanoia.

 

ASSOCIATED TEXTS
Ambient Plagues by Roberta Buiani
Behind the Mask:The Plague Doctor by Lindsey Fitzharris