These photographs weren’t taken — they were grown. As an artist and researcher at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Lia Giraud cultures microscopic algae into stunning portraits and landscapes. “The technique is… similar to photography, but the photosensitivity of silver grains [in film] is replaced by photosensitive organisms: microalgae,” says Giraud, 29.
To create each “algaegraph”, Giraud immerses the algae in a Petri dish filled with a mix of chemical nutrients, and exposes them to an image. “The cells react to the light and form solids of different densities,” she explains.
Although an outline forms in a few minutes, it can take up to four days to produce the final result. Then comes the problem of displaying them. “The image is sensitive to any external [light] phenomenon, and will continue to evolve over time,” says Giraud. But she hopes viewers will embrace the artworks’ temporary nature, or what she calls “the unpredictable sensitivity of living”.
Giraud is now working with cinematographer Alexis Raphélis to develop an installation in which the algae will respond to video in real time. The piece, titled Immersion, will be shown at the Vevey Visual Arts festival in Switzerland this autumn. “Working with living creatures raises the issue of autonomy,” she says. “It poses the question, ‘Can we really control the whole process of living things?'”
View original article at: French artist creates living portraits with algae photography