STARTS Prize Exhibition

STARTS Prize ´22 Exhibition

Quorum Sensing: Skin Flora Signal System

Helena Nikonole (TR/RU), Lucy Ojomoko (RU)

| | |

Nomination STARTS PRIZE ’22

Quorum Sensing: Skin Flora Signal System project develops DIY approaches for modifying human skin microbiome to produce smells that can be easily detected to self-diagnose or prevent diseases. Moreover, this project connects three kingdoms in a symbiotic relationship, uniting bacteria, plants, and animals (such as humans). By creating genetically modified skin microbiome bacteria, producing smells of flowers as a response to a trigger like a disease or fever, the project suggests considering skin microbiome as a terminal or an interface. Some diseases are asymptomatic, but can be detected on a molecular level. The entity or the organ, created as a prototype within the framework of the project, can reveal diseases by decoding molecular processes and producing smells that can be detected and identified. In terms of medicine, this system can be considered as a method of diagnostics and self-diagnostics or even disease prevention. However, we can expand this understanding in terms of bio-semiotics and see it as a new, artificially created but nevertheless natural sensing organ with the specific ability to redefine the existing signal system (smells) and to use the familiar sensation (olfactory) to encode and decode the information on a biochemical level.


Helena Nikonole (TR/RU) is a new media artist, independent curator, and educator currently based in Istanbul. Interested in Artificial Intelligence, hybrid art, and bio-semiotics, she explores the potential possibilities and risks of technology to understand the modern technology- and media-determined world. Her works have been exhibited at venues such as ZKM, Ars Electronica, and CTM.

Lucy Ojomoko (RU) is a molecular biologist and artist. She is focused on scientific and artistic research in the field of neuro- and synthetic biology. Her works were devoted to the exploration of intraspecific communication and the study of plasticity limits of living systems. She is author of several publications in peer review journals and has patents.


Bio Tehna Galerija Kapelica / Kapelica Gallery RAMPA Lab 
Collaboration: Nika Peshekhonova, Kristijan Tkalec, Luka Žagar, Jakob Grčman, Eva Debevec, Nastja Ambrožič, Zvonko Drobnič 
Special thanks to: Biotechnical Faculty, Infrastructural Centre (IC), Nina Gunde-Cimerman PhD, Cene Gostinčar PhD, Mojca Matul.
Quorum Sensing: Skin Flora Signal System is part of the ART4MED project, co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia.

The STARTS Prize has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 956603.