Before Period (句号之前) – Bacterial Prints

Jingwen, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, Interactive Art, 2024

Project Overview

Knowing that E.coli will gradually “disappear” after a while of growth (it is actually that the bacteria spread out on plate so the color fades out), I want to grasp and make art out of this characteristic. The 语气词, similar to interjections in English (I’m still trying to find the best translation), in Chinese language are always at the end of a sentence and all of them don’t have a tone, which is rare in Chinese because generally speaking every word has a tone. That makes 语气词 unremarkable and is easy to be ignored. So I want these words to be displayed in an already faded state.



  • I selected six of the most common and frequently used tone words in the Chinese language
  • I typed them into a document and chose the most formal Chinese fonts
  • I took screenshots of each word separately
  • Put each of them into the Grasshopper file that Ryan prepared for us to translate images into circled pixels
  • I adjusted some parameters so that the size and spacing of the circles is optimal
  • After the rhino file is prepared, I did a test cut on cardboard and it looks good
  • Instead of using Kapton, which was usually used as stencil for bacterial prints, I tried with a different material similar to Kapton that also resists heat and is cheaper! (I forgot the name (´-﹏-`;))
  • I washed stencils first and then autoclaved them


  • Ryan and Caelan helped us prepared the agar plates and E.coli bacteria for our drawings, big thanks!
  • I prepped Fluorescent Red E.coli bacteria to draw on transparent agar plates
  • Tools i used were: a glass rod, a small brush, a tweezer
  • I started with applying the stencil on agar plate with tweezer and make sure all the bubbles are gone so the stencil is perfectly attached to the surface of agar
  • Then I placed the glass rod on top of plate and dipped brush into the E.coli culture and gently splattered it on the rod so E.coli is evenly spread
  • Lastly, I put them into the incubator to grow
  • I checked on them everyday and recorded the growth
  • Since I want them to grow until they fade, I kept them in the incubator until critique. Otherwise, you stop them growing when they reach to a point that you are satisfied

Learn More

Instagram @5n.wen