Self-Portrait in Bacteria


Anna Fywell was an A level student at Richmond College.

She was interested in the way that artists were using science and was inspired by the artist Laura Splan who took images of malaria cells and made them into something beautiful.  But Anna was interested in not just a beautiful image but a visual narrative.  She had seen bacterial handprints and wanted to take it a step further.  She wanted to create a self-portrait in bacteria . . .



 Anna met with Professor John Ward at UCL.  He created an agar gel with the right kind of consistency for this project.  Anna imprinted her face in the agar.  It was then put in the incubator and every few days she took pictures of the growing bacteria.


"In Photoshop I superimposed the bacteria onto a picture of my face.  I ended up with eight images, the bacteria growing more with each image.  I also began to degenerate my face.  I knew at this stage that the project was about death and regeneration.

"We decompose but life in some form carries on.  And there is a beauty in the bacteria - in the floral shapes and colours."

Life after death?

 The music for this film - Massive Attack "Future Proof" has been taken off due to EMI requesting a fee