Extra Credit\Invisible Earthlings\Marian Portugal

Beatriz Da Costa’s exhibit on Invisible Earthlings was nothing that I expected.  I expected to be going to a large lecture hall to listen to her speak about the project she has been working on.  Instead, I stepped into a small room with specimens around the walls.  Each wall had four Nokia N800’s (touch screen internet tablets), and three to four petri dishes set on a shelf under it.  On one wall was Da Costa’s statement of purpose. 

Each Tablet with its set of dishes belonged to a different part of her own backyard.  These locations included a gate, bench, and the inside of her garage.  The purpose of the tablets was to provide some sort of interaction between her project and her audience, in which she posted pictures and information about the different types of microorganisms she found. 

I really liked Da Costa’s work of art because it reminds us of how much power such tiny microorganisms have, and their capacity to effect the lives of many.  When I read her statement, the phrase that I thought was the most interesting was “although most people have some vague notion about the importance of microbes to such things as ecosystems and human digestive tracts, microbes commonly only receive our attention when they cause problems.  ‘Problems’ in this case defined as harmful to human, plant, or animal health, and /or material goods.”  It made me realize that we humans often take these Invisible Earthlings for granted.  Although many different types of them, like staphylococcus (which she happened to find on a gate) cause illness, there are some bacteria that animals and humans benefit from.  E. Coli, for example is found in the lower intestine of our bodies.  They make digestion easier for us by helping to break down the food.  Also, they help with the production of Vitamin K and prevent other pathogens from invading our body.  It is easy to focus on the problems that E. Coli causes, such as food poisoning, but even easier to forget how it is beneficial to us.  I feel this is exactly what Da Costa is trying to emphasize.  We take these microorganisms for granted and forget how important they are to our everyday lives.  We need to remember that they are our oldest forms of life, and should be appreciated more in this world.

http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/1996-12/840131722.Dv.r.html

 

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