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PHOTOS: Brooklyn artist creates portraits from subway bacteria

Craig Ward's new photo series 'Subvisual Subway' used bacteria to make portraits.

An artist has created beauty out of bacteria in a way that’s sure to trouble train commuters. The Brooklyn-based Craig Ward decided to collect samples from the handrails of New York subway carriages. These germ-filled deposits were photographed to create the disturbingly delightful “Subvisual Subway” photographic series.

What led you to photograph the subway poles?

I was inspired after seeing a photograph by a researcher who had grown the bacteriafrom her son’s handprint in agar. It reminded me of the urban myth that when you use the handrails you’re effectively shaking hands with a hundred people at the same time, and I wondered how that might look. For me the images are portraits, of a kind, and I think they serve as an excellent visual analogy for the diversity of the city at large.

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What did you find there?

A lot! We had to visually identify the species as isolating the individual colonies wasn’t going to be possible.

Were you scared or surprised at what you found?

I was surprised that the project worked so well, to be honest; but the bacteria is pretty much in line with what I’d expect to see in such a densely packed urban environment. I didn’treally have any expectations on the project, apart from satisfying my own curiosity, so I was just pleased that the technique worked and thatI managed to create some cool images.

What has been the reaction of people?

I’d have to say, equal parts amazement and repulsion.

– ByDaniel Casillas

 
 
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