Glass, phenol red, paper, lactic acid, metal.
A 500ml bottle of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS), commonly referred to as “cell food” or just “media” in the biotech industry, contains the blood serum of one cow fetus. Blood is drained via cardiac puncture, centrifuged and filtrated to obtain the serum, and dyed with phenol red, a pH indicator. This dye gives the serum its iconic fuchsia tint. It reacts with acidic cell metabolites to turn yellowish, serving as a visual reminder for researchers to replenish the medium. This meditative time piece drips at one second intervals, the drips turn yellow upon immediate contact with paper brushed with lactic acid.
This work employs the language, aesthetics, and theoretical framings of biotech to question its imaginaries. How clean is “clean meat” aka “lab grown meat”? Which narratives are being held in the spotlight while others are made less visible? In what ways can we re-imagine anthropocentric definitions of livability to include the bodies and agencies of other beings?