Medayilmukku – Animated E.coli

Nadia Nazar, Animation, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, and MAT, 2024

Nadia is an animator and sculptor with an artistic practice primarily using steel and stop-motion as methods of storytelling. Her work disrupts and engages in traditional processes, specifically related to her relationships with her family and intersections with the land.

Project Overview

I animated images with E.coli in two different ways. I tracked the growth of the cell cultures on a large agar dish over the course of a few days. In the other way, I drew a different frame on ten different small petri dishes with agar, then documenting and compositing it in after effects. The content I animated is related to my thesis, notions of my homeland and relationships with my family and the land.


I used three large petri dishes with agar and a small petri dish. All four had different conditions for different cells. One was black with the Ampicilin antibiotic for the fluorescent cells. The other was black with Kanamycin antibiotic for the blue cells. One was transparent with Ampicillin antibiotic. And the last was also transparent but with Kanamycin antibiotic.

I coated the surface of the Kanamycin antibiotic dishes with X-gal to help the cells become more blue. I coated one large petri dish with 200 μL of X-gal.

I set up a down-shooter with two lights in the morgue for controlled lighting. I had registration marks on the down-shooter. Every few hours I came in and took about 5 images of all four plates.

I then compiled and composited all the images in after effects.

For my animated motion test, I did a little bit of a different method after not getting much variation the first go around. I prepped about 10 small petri dishes with agar and coated them with X-gal. I started a cell culture for the E.coli with IPTG induced blue. I drew different frames of rain pouring that looped back from frame 10 to frame 1 with a yellow looped cell spreader. I lasercut a jig out of plywood, vector cutting out the size of the petri dish from the middle. I clamped the jig to the down-shooter and shot all 10 frames at once, and composited in after effects.

There was mold growth on two plates by the time I documented, you can see the white fuzzy dot!

Learn More

My motion test in Falvey here.

Sumakshi Singh’s work