Extra Credit #3_Invisible Earthlings by Nikolaos Mouchtouris

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In the last week of February, I attended Beatriz Da Costa’s art exhibition called Invisible Earthlings, which was about microbes and their interaction with humans. Before I start describing what I saw, I have to admit that the idea was original and interesting, however, it was questionable to what extent there was a point in it.

On one of the walls, there was a passage, perhaps the “abstract” of the art project, where the artist talked about her idea about microbes and why she felt the need to do what she did. Microbes are found everywhere, indoors and outdoors, consisting a big part of our world. They are infamous for causing diseases and getting us sick, however, their role in life is definitely more important. Being Greek, I would like to point out that the word comes from the two greek words small and organism, perhaps sort of obvious without any knowledge of Greek. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and many other tiny organisms are all microbes and are usually unicellular. Some of these actually live inside us at moderate levels, but once they start increasing in numbers, then unfortunately we get sick. That is their bad side, however, microbes are really crucial in carrying out several basic processes, such as nitrogen recycling. They are decomposers, thus, they take care of dead material, recycling it in a way. Microorganisms are also well-known to us because of their use for research, as they are used as vectors to insert several desired genetic characteristics into a human body. The truth is that without micro-organisms, research would not have developed as much because it is really convenient to work with viruses and bacteria. I would like to end this scientific review of the importance of microbes by one of their most famous application to college students. They are actually used for the preparation of beer, which most college students are very familiar with.

Beatriz da Costa tries to bring up the significance of microbes and raise awareness to people who are not really into biology. She uses technology to point out our co-existence in this world, by revealing where they live-everywhere pretty much. It is nice how there were small interactive screens and each attendant had to click and would observe the zoomed in image.

The truth is that I was not very impressed by this exhibition because I was familiar with the existence of microbes and their different functions. Even though I have not worked in a research lab yet, I have learned about them through the biology courses I have taken all these years. However, this exhibition is probably really interesting for someone who does not know anything about microbes and perhaps he/she is scared of them. After attending this exhibition, he/she finds out that there is no reason to be scared of microbes because we are actually supposed to live together peacefully. Besides, if every person takes care of himself and does not tire or stress himself out, then microbes will not “attack”, thus, staying healthy.

Nick Mouchtouris

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