The World, Video, 4:44, 2010
In The World, I used microorganisms to refer human behavior, culture and creation of different societies. I re-created the world political map on a Petri dish using microbial growth media. Each continent was traced and excessive growth media was removed from the Petri dishes. Afterwards, a different microorganism was placed on each country. Growth of a microorganism is depended upon inherent characteristics, food sources, the environment (light, temp and humidity) and its ability to compete with others. Based on these factors some microorganisms will be dominant and others will be less successful invaders. To reflect the current political characteristics, I chose more aggressive isolates for the developed countries. For example, USA has achieved its position of dominance in the world by trade, a powerful army and imposing its culture and values over others. Thus, I placed the most aggressive isolate to represent the US. In contrary, developing countries have been represented by less aggressive ones. On the map, the aggressive microbes grow faster and have larger territories, leaving smaller space to be colonized by others. This also results in less resources/food being available for slow growers. Uncontrolled spores that are present on the air landed on the work during this process, which in a way reflects immigration or migration. Based on the complex dynamics, each of the microbes creates its territories, and use up its resources and finally they will start to die. The entire work demonstrates human actions, form of power, political pressure, immigration, and how superior countries place dominance on others in the world. In addition to the political facts reflected by the dynamic interaction of microbes, the work also demonstrates how dependent we are on natural resources, similar to the microbes in a Petri dish with limited resources. The outcome, as seen in a short time-period in a ‘Petri dish environment’ can lead to rapid exhaustion and an un-sustainable future.

Selin Balci, a Washington D.C. based bio-art artist, received her Bsc in Forestry/Microbiology from Istanbul University, and BFA from West Virginia University. She worked in plant pathology related research labs for more than five years.

Balci’s work exemplifies one of the essential definitions of art, that is, art makes visible something that previously was not. By utilizing traditional lab procedures, Balci creates microenvironments by incorporating biological material as a new art media to explore the literal process of life. From sterile beginnings the growth of microbes demonstrate a turbulent arc of life within a largely imperceptible world. Balci’s simple living organisms live and die within a network of biological exchanges highlighting a wide range of behaviors similar to the human equivalent of social exchanges.

Selin currently is persuing her MFA in Studio Arts at the University of Maryland. In 2010 her work was included in the Scope Art Fair in Miami. She was awarded with Anne Truitt MFA Scholarship in 2009 and also fellowship program of Hamiltonian Gallery in 2010. She is invited to participate in MIND THE GAP which coincide with ISEA2011 Istanbul. Selin is represented by Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC. Her work can be viewed at