Plastifique Biofarm

Interactive installation, hybrid-art. 2015
ant farm / 2 macro-cameras / 2 headphones / 2 lcd-displays / max msp patch

Collaboration with dr. Anastasiya Kanatieva and Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov
The idea of this collaborative project was a result of artists and scientists communication. The project represents futuristic conception of bio- farm where ants can live in symbiosis with bacteria and recycle plastic. The movements of ants was transposed into the interactive sound installation.

The project was shown at the exhibition during Polytech.Science.Art week at the place of GARAGE museum, Moscow.

This project presents the stage of development of a farm-plant for the production of biodiesel from polyethylene terephthalate waste (PET, PET). Biodegradation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PET), which is one of the main plastics used by humans, is due to the decomposition of polymer molecules by ester bonds. The decomposition is carried out by the bacteria Thermobifida fusca (hay bacillus), capable of producing polyester hydrolase in the course of their vital activity, which promotes the hydrolysis of polyesters. Bacteria exist in symbiosis with the bio-engineering type of ants Acromyrmex Petus, which will be obtained by gene modification of the precursor species - leaf-cutting ant. Acromyrmex Petus have powerful mandibles and are capable of cutting PET sheets into small pieces just as the leaf cutter ants cut the leaves of trees. The crushed plastic ants are delivered to the cells of the nest, where the bacteria Thermobifida Fusca use it as a source of food. However, due to the fact that PET is absent nitrogen, the bacterial culture receives it from the soil. To do this, legume crops should grow near the nest, in the roots of which there are nodule bacteria that bind atmospheric nitrogen and deliver it to the soil in the form of more bioavailable compounds. The by-product of the vital activity of Thermobifida Fusca bacteria are fatty acids, which, through the semipermeable membrane lining the anthill's bacterial chamber, are removed from the cycle and are esterified to form fatty acid methyl esters, which are biodiesel fuel. The food source of ants is a growing bacterial film on the walls of the chamber.

PET -> Ants Acromyrmex Petus (grinding and delivering PET to a bacterial chamber) -> Bacteria Thermobifida Fusca (hydrolysis PET) -> Fatty Acids (a by-product of bacteria) -> Esterification of fatty acids -> Bio-diesel

Technological basis:
1) Thermobifida fusca and the presence of the enzyme hydrolase enzyme for the decomposition of polyesters (helps it decompose cellulose).
2) The possibility of bacterial decomposition of various plastics (there are a large number of studies on this topic).
3) Symbiosis of leaf-cutting ants and their source of nutrition, a symbiosis of various ants and bacteria of various species.
4) Fatty acids as a by-product of the activity of various bacteria.
5) The technology of esterification of fatty acids into methyl esters - currently, biodiesel is industrially produced by transesterification of vegetable oils (by the chemical nature of these triglycerides of fatty acids) and animal fats.
6) The existence of semipermeable membranes, which allow only one substance or group of substances to pass through, with certain properties, and only in one direction.
7) Nodule bacteria and their unique ability to bind atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into organic nitrogen-containing compounds.