I moved my nascent algae collection from the Parson’s Build Your Own Bioreactor Workshop to our Bushwick Studio, where I’m working on setting it up in the window of the wood shop, overlooking the M Train (video below). I’m trying to build a system that starts with small reactors at the top, each stocked with algae gathered from a different location. As they grow, I’ll funnel them into a second set of larger reactors, then finally mix them all together into one big reactor on the windowsill (which I still need to build). This is still a rough prototype, but less leaky than the first! The curtain rods definitely need to be replaced soon.
This set up should hopefully allow me to maintain small populations of the original samples in the top row of reactors, while generating enough algae in the larger reactors to start harvesting and experimenting with it as a medium or dye. The harvesting and pigment extraction part of this is still a bit of a mystery to me, but research is in the works. All of this is inspired by Angelo Vermeulen’s Biomodd Project, which is coming to the New York Hall of Science next fall, but also has roots in the algae that I produced unintentionally when I was working with sweet potatoes back in the Hunter days:
At the time I was enthralled by the stuff- a little bit of pond in the middle of all that concrete and grime that is the (current) Hunter MFA Building. I kept the algae alive even after I’d transplanted the sweet potatoes into pots with soil, and did a few drawing experiments with it, but when I left for the summer my little ponds inevitably dried up, and that was the end of it. So I’m thrilled to have discovered a new avenue back into this project. Algae growing weather is upon us, and I’m looking forward to identifying more algae-rich locations for the map we started during the workshop:
I tossed a few invasive water chestnuts gathered upstate along the Hudson last month into one of the reactors. Apparently algae is tough enough to dry out completely and regenerate once it’s exposed to proper conditions, so maybe I’ll have some Hudson River algae propagating soon: