Residency at Coalesce Center for Biological Art with Joel Ong

Joel Ong and I have been working at the Coalesce Center for Biological Art  with the Genome, Environment and Microbiome Community of Excellence at the University at Buffalo, New York, on a project called Umwelt Microbiana.

If we see the world from the microbial perspective, we might better understand and appreciate the complex living interdependencies between the air, earth, water, plants, and animals. Through the collection and analysis of samples, the writing of microbial narratives or myths, and the construction of a small world that can be experienced by only a few people at a time, we intend to crack open a door to the microbial umwelt. To begin, we propose workshops to involve interested citizens in collecting microbial samples from the air using balloons and kites, from local water sources (Great Lakes and Niagra River) using flasks and buckets, and from the soil using shovels and probes. With a fraction of these samples we will conduct scientific tests, including metagenomic profiles, to consider the ecological  networks, communication, and horizontal gene transfer between all of these realms. We will integrate the other fraction of these samples into interactive installations, where fans, heat lamps, air currents, and water currents converge around built topographies.

We have begun with samples of the Niagra watershed and in April will be launching a weather balloon in search of the microbes involved in the formation of clouds and precipitation.


Macro-Micro-Nano Climate on exhibit at International Open Air Expressions, Saitama, Japan


macro-micro-nano-climate-m-lorusso2-smMacro-Micro-Nano Climate is a series of works based on my research and interest into the relationship between Gaia, our planet Earth as a macro organism, and all of the living cells on the earth. The microbes of the planet become the protagonists of this work, featured for their role in producing clouds, and as messengers and mediators between all living beings on the planet.

I am presenting Macro-Micro-Nano Climate at two locations in Saitama, Japan, as part of International Open Air Expressions. Thanks to Onodera San and Iwaki San and all of the Iwaki students for their support and for participating in workshops for learning about microbes and depicting them in woodblock prints.

Artist and director of Arttextum, Frida Cano, is exhibiting along with me in both locations.

The first location was at the Sanbancho Gallery, from October 26th until November. The second exhibition opens at Tokyo Denki University in Saitama on December 3rd.





Communing with Glaciers at Matza Aletsch Residency in Swiss Alps


From August 29th to September 11th, I joined eight other artists for the Matza Aletsch expedition residency on the largest glaciers of Europe. We trekked up the great Aletsch Glacier, to Konkordiaplatz, where four glaciers meet up and give birth to the Aletsch Glacier. Konkoridaplatz means plaza of harmony, from the Latin concordia, or “with (one) heart,” a name that fits well with my mission to bond with the glacier and with the group. I went with the intention of communicating with the glacier, through a series of performances, and to examine and sing to microbial life on the glacier and in the air. See Explaining a Bosch Triptych to a Dying Glacier and Drachen of Aletsch for details on two of these performance projects.

IMG_20170830_112135Since the late 1800’s Aletsch has melted dramatically fast, due to climate change, dropping 200 meters and retreating 3 kilometers (Wikipedia), and without these glaciers important rivers in Europe would run dry, including the Rhone.


Here is my journal entry from the approach to the Aletsch Glacier, on August 31:

Two long days of hiking up the mountains and down the valleys, over giant swinging metal bridges, past braying goats and sheep, and cow bells clink in the alpine air. We witness the turquoise waters rush from the Glacier’s mouth, down the Glacier-carved valley, toward the Rhone. mick-lorusso-matza-aletsch_20170830_132340.jpg

Water, water is good, water is great, water is life. The Glacier appears from different vantages, reveals herself in all her splendid power, coiled, curving, and slowly moving downward, carving the rock. Fog and rain accompany us today. As we climb to the first cabin above Aletsch, we can only see the path in front of us and only sense the presence of the Glacier down to the left, breathing slowly, awaiting its next recharge from the winter snow. The fog parts now and shows us her ridged white, grey and brown scales, ice waves undulating at an imperceptible speed.


Plants! Green accompanies us. Before reaching the glacier, we hike up the mountain through a relatively untouched pine forest, with baby pines sprouting from old moss-coverd logs. Tiny succulents form miniature landscapes with moss of many forms. Flourishing blueberry bushes abound above Reideralp. We forage, worlding into the landscape by eating. Later, bogs with grass and methanogens dapple the landscape between giant stones. Up above, many lichens grow on every rock, bright light green splotches with black edges predominate along with large blue-grey circles.mick-lorusso-matza-aletsch_20170831_124950.jpg



Showing at ISEA 2017, Manizales, Colombia with collaborators Clarissa Ribeiro and Herbert Rocha

Interstellar: Cross-Scale Space Scapes at ISEA 2017 an augmented reality soundscape installation by Clarissa Ribeiro, Mick Lorusso and Herbert Rocha

This collaborative artwork with Clarissa Ribeiro and Herbert Rocha looks at stardust that flows through our solar system from other parts of the galaxy as we rapidly move through space. In connection with the ISEA theme, Bio-Creation and Peace, we reconsider the fact that all living and non-living presences on our planet come from the activities of stars. Organic molecules such as alcohols and carbon lattices such as nanodiamonds constantly enter our atmosphere from the cosmos.

Conceived as a peaceful and playful exploration of the interstellar space, the augmented reality soundscape installation invites the audience to access the experiential dimension of space. One enteres a space with  augmented reality trackers depicting places in space where interstellar dust forms and is found, especially nebulae.  Holding an ipad mini or cell phone with an augmented reality app, one will find him/herself immersed in a soundscape populated with 3D models derived from actual nanoscale stardust particles’ images.

Both the exercise of designing the 3D representations for the Augmented Reality application from original nano scale image samples of stardust particles and the sonification projects, are part of an interventionist creative practice where different strategies for editing and data visualization were explored, producing data-environments as informational sensorial experiences – somehow touching the untouchable space between the stars.

Exhibiting at Biocultura, Santa Fe, April 23

Presenting a Collaborative Cabinet work on Skin to Soil Microbiome,

April 23: 5-7:30PM

Earth Optimism Santa Fe at Biocultura

Earth Optimism Santa Fe connects globally and acts locally to feature the work of artists, students and scientists responding to environmental challenges and opportunities. We are a sister event of Earth Optimism, a global program coordinated by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and connected to the UNM Art & Ecology’s Decolonizing Nature Conference. Our aim is to celebrate the systems that keep our soil (and us) healthy.
Featuring electronics pioneer Leah Beuchley, bio artist Mick Lorusso in a collaboration with Joel Ong , artist and designer Catherine Page Harris, Marfa-based artist Elise Sibley Chandler, biologist Renee Bronwyn Johansen and bio art and design students Kaitlin Bryson and Sabrina Islam. The event will also mark the launch of a work by Navajo Nation-based photo muralist and member of the Justseeds collective Chip Thomas.

Mick Lorusso and Joel Ong have created windows into the microbial world, where dirt samples from the regions incubate and breed curated microbiomes. Interactive elements perturb the dust samples, further revealing narratives and metaphors of environmental disruptions at a global scale, providing the context for a uniquely microbial perspective of the world.

“Microbial Witness/Atlas” collaborative installation at ArtSci Salon, Toronto opens April 6th

A collaboration between Joel Ong, Mick Lorusso at the ArtSci Salon Cabinet Project, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Opening April 6th, 2017
Two cabinets at the entrance of Gerstein Library, at the University of Toronto, act as windows into the microbial world, where dirt samples from the region incubate and breed curated microbiomes. Overlaid with topographical representations of geologic features, the installation defines the site as an interconnected ecology, extending to sites on the human body that are known to host similar microbial populations.  Interactive elements perturb the dust samples, further revealing narratives and metaphors of environmental disruptions at a global scale, providing the context for a uniquely microbial perspective of the world.  The installation also features historical books from the library, diagrams and observational equipment.  The pages of this microbial atlas open before us, revealing microbes as witness to life on the other side of the looking glass.

Participant in Biohack Academy 4, through UNM, NM

The Biohack Academy 4 (BHA4) is a 10 week intensive international course on DIY biology techniques by the Waag Society. As a recent transplant to New Mexico, I have joined the Univeristy of New Mexico node of the Biohack Academy, through the Social Media Workgroup, run by Andrea Polli Ph.D.

You can see updates on the github page started for the course:

In connection to my current collaboration with Joel Ong on the correlations between the environmental microbiome and the body microbiome, I proposed the idea Microbial Utopia/Distopia – Soil to Skin as my midterm to the BHA4. Watch it on Vimeo here.

My final presentation, with the results of the first experiments is here: 

Soil to Skin – Mick Lorusso Final Presentation for Biohack Academy 4 from Mick Lorusso on Vimeo.