Host: A collaboration with Baum & Lehy
Host is the primordial memory of your future home. A gut reaction to the loss of biodiversity within domestic, indoor ecosystems. This slow, soft, moist and messy antidote to over-sanitised insanity invites you to feel at home with the presence of your microscopic housemates. Immerse yourself and your cells in a future of microbiophilic living, rest and re-wild, heal, host and be hosted by your cohabiting microbes.
Live microbial communities in glass vessels are suspended over and emerging from a landscape of soft, gut-like cushions. The cultures reside on the surfaces around you, flow between the vessels, are distributed via mist and instantly engage in intimate exchange with your microbial body. The physicality and materiality of the space indicates this fractal relationship between microbial, mammalian and domestic matter. Porous, bio-receptive tiles suggest a future architecture designed and grown around the ecosystemic dynamics of the hosts. Here, you are regenerated cell by cell. Somewhere between a garden, a pharmacy and your bathroom medicine cupboard, this responsive space heals you, and in return, you grow it.
Image by Thoma Adank
Our meaty, mammalian bodies are host and home to a ubiquitous shimmer of invisible microbes: bacteria, archaea, protozoa, fungi and more. So incomprehensibly tiny, more than half a million bacteria could fit inside this comma, yet our microbial ecologies are monumental in shaping our health through a myriad of genetic functions, known as the human microbiome. Blurring the boundaries between animate and inanimate matter, these personal microbial ecologies not only exist around and within everyone, but also reside everywhere inside our built environments. Every home hosts its own microbiome – the hundreds of thousands species-strong family that you never knew you were living with.
This ancient microbe-mammal-symbiosis is currently inadvertently undergoing dramatic changes. The Hygiene Hypothesis suggests that decreased exposure to outdoor microbial diversity in urban indoor environments correlates with an increase in autoimmune diseases, such as allergy and asthma. In the future, our increasingly sanitised domestic spaces could result in a ‘silent microbiome crisis’, where loss of diverse microbial communities are putting our overall health at risk.
Images by Oliver Holmes
Host responds both to this internal and external over-sterilisation of our bodies and habitats and explores how microbial biodiversity can be re-introduced to foster healthy, regenerative multispecies living spaces. As well as the multitudeof microbes already inhabiting this installation and gallery space, Host centres around the diverse microbial communities found in cultures of kombucha and soil. Kombucha, a well-known symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria, has been domestically fermented as a healing remedy for millenia. In a handful of soil, billions of individual microscopic cells, tens of thousands of different species, reside.
Nostalgic earthy and acidic smells amongst soft, responsive surfaces invite physical and sensorial intimacy, as your microbes enrich and contribute to the microbes of the space.
Host envisions a hybrid, rewilded space nurturing the microbial diversity within which the mammalian immune system evolved, whilst also suggesting how we might learn to live consciously entangled with the multi-faceted, unpredictable ways of the microbes. Beginning with our own personal and collective healing, in our bodies and homes, we seed the emergence of environmental healing on a planetary scale.
Text by Baum & Leahy, 2019
Hand-blown glass, Recycled textiles, Wool, Hemp, Rehomed doormats, Buckwheat, Flax seeds, Kapok, Porous bio-receptive concrete, Resin, Silicon tubes, Air pumps, Mist makers, Geosmin molecule, Kombucha (Microbe Genera include Acetobacter, Candida, Gluconobacter, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, Saccharomycodes, Schizosaccharomyces, Zygosaccharomyces, Brettanomyces/Dekkera, Candida, Torulospora, Koleckera, Pichia, Mycotorula, Mycoderma, Torula, Torulopsis, Kluyveromyces), Garden soil (Microbe Genera include Achromobacter, Acidicapsa, Acidiphilium, Acidisoma, Acidobacterium, Acidocella, Acidovorax, Acinetobacter, Actinoallomurus, Actinocatenispora, Actinomadura, Actinomyces, Actinomycetospora, Actinoplanes, Actinopolymorpha, Actinotalea, Adhaeribacter, Aequorivita, Aeromicrobium, Aetherobacter, Afifella, Afipia, Agrobacterium, Agromyces, Alicyclobacillus, Alkanibacter, Alkanindiges, Amaricoccus, Aminobacter, Ammoniphilus, Amycolatopsis, Anaerolinea, Anaeromyxobacter, Anaerovibrio, Anaerovorax, Ancylobacter, Aneurinibacillus, Anoxybacillus, Aquabacterium, Aquicella, Archangium, Ardenscatena, Arenimonas, Arthrobacter, Asteroleplasma, Asticcacaulis, Asticcacaulis, Azohydromonas, Azospirillum, B-42, Bacillus, Balneimonas, Bdellovibrio, Beijerinckia, Bifidobacterium, Bordetella, Bosea, Brachybacterium, Bradyrhizobium, Brevibacillus, Brevibacterium, Brevundimonas, Bryobacter, Burkholderia, Butyrivibrio, Caldilinea, Caloramator, Camelimonas, Candidatus, Candidimonas, Catellatospora, Caulobacter, Cellulomonas, Cellulosimicrobium, Cellvibrio, Chelativorans, Chelatococcus, Chelatococcus, Chloronema, Chondromyces, Chryseobacterium, Chthoniobacter, Clostridium, Cohnella, Collimonas, Collinsella, Comamonas, Conexibacter, Coprococcus, Corallococcus, Corynebacterium, Couchioplanes, Crenothrix, Crocinitomix, Cryocola, Cryptosporangium, Cupriavidus, Curtobacterium, Cystobacter, Cytophaga, DA101, Dactylosporangium, Dechloromonas, Demequina, Denitrobacter, Dermacoccus, Desulfosporosinus, Desulfotomaculum, Devosia, Dok59, Dokdonella, Dongia, Duganella, Dyadobacter, Dyella, Edaphobacter, Ellin506, Emticicia, Ensifer, Erwinia, Erythromicrobium, Escherichia, Ethanoligenens, FFCH10602, Fimbriimonas, Flavihumibacter, Flavisolibacter, Flavobacterium, Fluviicola, Frankia, Frigoribacterium, Fusibacter, Gemmata, Gemmatimonas, Geobacillus, Geobacter, Geodermatophilus, Geothrix, Gluconacetobacter, Glycomyces, Gordonia, Gracilibacter, Granulicella, Gynumella, Herbaspirillum, Herminiimonas, HeteroC45_4W, Hyphomicrobium, Iamia, Isosphaera, Janthinobacterium, JG37-AG-70, Jiangella, Kaistia, Kaistobacter, Kibdelosporangium, Kineosporia, Kitasatospora, Knoellia, Kouleothrix, Kribbella, Ktedonobacter, Kutzneria, Kyrpidia, Labrys, Larkinella, Leadbetterella, Lechevalieria, Legionella, Lentzea, Leptothrix, Luteibacter, Luteimonas, Luteolibacter, Lysinibacillus, Lysobacter, Magnetospirillum, Marmoricola, Massilia, Mesorhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Methanobacterium, Methanobrevibacter, Methanoculleus, Methanomassiliicoccus, Methanosarcina, Methylibium, Methylobacillus, Methylobacter, Methylobacterium, Methylocaldum, Methylocella, Methylosinus, Methylotenera, Methylovirgula, Micromonospora, Mucilaginibacter, Mycobacterium, Mycoplana, Myxococcus, Nannocystis, Nevskia, Niabella, Nitrosopumilus, Nitrosotalea, Nitrosovibrio, Nitrospira, Nocardia, Nocardioides, Nocardioides, Nonomuraea, Novosphingobium, Ochrobactrum, Olivibacter, Opitutus, OR-59, Oribacterium, Oryzihumus, Oxalobacter, Paenibacillus, Paenibacillus, Panacagrimonas, Pandoraea, Paracoccus, Parapedobacter, Parasegitibacter, Parvibaculum, Patulibacter, Paucibacter, Paucimonas, Pedobacter, Pedomicrobium, Pedosphaera, Pelomonas, Pelosinus, Peredibacter, Perlucidibaca, Phaeospirillum, Phenylobacterium, Phormidium, Phycicoccus, Phyllobacterium, Pigmentiphaga, Pilimelia, Pimelobacter, Pirellula, Planctomyces, planctomycete, Planifilum, Planomicrobium Pleomorphomonas, Plesiocystis, Pontibacter, Prevotella, Promicromonospora, Prosthecobacter, Pseudochrobactrum, Pseudoclavibacter, Pseudomonas, Pseudomonas, Pseudonocardia, Pseudonocardia, Pseudoxanthomonas, Pullulanibacillus, Pusillimonas, Rahnella, Ralstonia, Ramlibacter, Rathayibacter, Reyranella, RFN20, Rhizobium, Rhodanobacter, Rhodobacter, Rhodococcus, Rhodoferax, Rhodomicrobium, Rhodopila, Rhodoplanes, Rhodovulum, Rickettsiella, Roseomonas, Rubrivivax, Rubrobacter, Rudaea, Rugosimonospora, Ruminococcus, Ruminofilibacter, Rummeliibacillus, Saccharomonospora, Saccharopolyspora, Salinibacterium, Salinisphaera, Salinispora, Sanguibacter, Sediminibacterium, Segetibacter, Serratia, SHD-231, Shimazuella, Shinella, Silvimonas, Simkania, Simplicispira, Singulisphaera, Sinomonas, Skermanella, Smaragdicoccus, Solibacillus, Solimonas, Solirubrobacter, Solitalea, Sorangium, Sphaerisporangium, Sphingobacterium, Sphingobium, Sphingomonas, Sphingopyxis, Sporanaerobacter, Sporichthya, Sporocytophaga, Sporolactobacillus, Sporosarcina, Sporotomaculum, Stenotrophomonas, Steroidobacter, Streptacidiphilus, Streptococcus, Streptomyces, Streptosporangium, Sulfuritalea, Symbiobacterium, Syntrophobacter, Telmatospirillum, Tepidibacter, Tepidimicrobium, Terracoccus, Terriglobus, Thermoactinomyces, Thermoanaerobacterium, Thermobifida, Thermobispora, Thermomonas, Thermus, Treponema, Turicibacter, Turneriella, Uliginosibacterium, Ureibacillus, Variovorax, Variovorax, Virgibacillus, Virgisporangium, Williamsia, Woodsholea, Xanthomonas, Xylanimicrobium, YNPFFP6, Yonghaparkia, Zhouia), microbes in Elephant West and of your body.
Soil-mist tiles and tentacular surface expanding elements made in collaboration with Richard Beckett
Glassworks designed by Baum & Leahy and blown by Adam Aaronson Studio
Mist system produced with support-in-kind from Glen Dimplex
Additional production support
Greg Orrom Swan and Deborah Mora
Rob Dunn, Biologist, writer and professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University.
Birgitte Rubæk, Exhibitions and Interpretations Manager at the Natural History Museum, Copenhagen
Adam Bencard, Lecturer, researcher and curator at Medical Museion, Copenhagen
Peder Worning, Researcher and bioinformatician at Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen, author and science communicator
Simone Zuffa, PhD candidate specialising in early-life microbiomics and metabolomics, Imperial College London