Cave Painting – Bacterial Prints

Austin Chia, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, 2024

Project Overview

I have a minor in painting and was really excited to ‘paint’ with bacteria. Using CRISPR technology to manipulate the colors emitted by the Ecoli Bacteria was interesting and definitely novel.

I wanted to connect this new technology and application with the act of painting. I therefore decided to reference probably the earliest form of mark-making, cave paintings.


I first prepared black agar (agar mixed with charcoal powder). Next, I prepped the Ecoli bacteria (Fluorescent Red). I then used my fingers (covered with a layer of rubber glove) to paint the images on the plate of agar.

For the handprint, I tried to stencil the negative space around my hand. To do so, I placed my hands on top of the agar. My friend then used a brush to sprinkle the droplets of Ecoli (fluorescent red) culture onto the areas around my hand.

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