Susceptible is a data-driven interactive digital artwork based on cutting-edge research from CRyPTIC, an international consortium led by the University of Oxford. CRyPTIC’s research analysed thousands of images of the tuberculosis (TB) bacteria growing in the presence of different antibiotics. Researchers then combined that data with information about the whole genome sequences of those bacteria, in order to predict, for the first time, which of the four first-line antibiotic medicines will be effective in treating a patient with tuberculosis based on the DNA sequence of the bacteria infecting them. CRyPTIC brought together 10,290 Mycobacterium tuberculosis samples, representing all major strain lineages, obtained from people in sixteen different countries across six continents, along with a knowledge base of M. tuberculosis genome mutations that are associated with resistance or susceptibility to the four drugs. In the artwork TB bacillus swarm around the bronchi and alveoli of the lung. The four antibiotics are represented by different colored cloud-like elements inspired by the appearance of the medicines. The TB bacteria each represent a different sample, which, if they are susceptible to one of the four drugs, are destroyed when a participant guides them to it. The artwork is layered with time-based origin and destination data from London’s Gatwick Airport from before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period in the form of contrail-like threads which cross the images. It shows explicitly the massive reduction in flights that occurred during the 2020 pandemic.
Lead artist: Anna Dumitriu
Creative technologist: Alex May
Curatorial advisor: Irini Papadimitriou
Supported by DRIVA Arts DRIVA (Digital Research and Innovation Accelerator) led by the University of Brighton and funded by the European Structural Investment Fund and Arts Council England
Anna Dumitriu (GB) is an award winning internationally renowned British artist who works with BioArt, sculpture, installation, and digital media to explore our relationship to infectious diseases, synthetic biology, and robotics. Past exhibitions include ZKM, Ars Electronica, BOZAR, and HeK.
Alex May (GB) is a British contemporary artist whose practice questions how our individual and collective experiences of time, and formation of memories and cultural record, are mediated, expanded, and directed by contemporary technologies. Past exhibitions include LABoral, IMPAKT, FACT, and HeK.