Under our feet lies a world full of micro-organisms, most of which perform important tasks in our environment. The Geobacter is a bacteria that can purify water while continuously excreting electrons to its surroundings. Teresa van Dongen has been exploring these specific organisms since 2016 together with the Ghent University as a means to generate electricity for human use. For the 2019 Oerol Festival she investigated multiple places at the island Terschelling to see if she could find a new, strong ecosystem containing these energy-providing microbes.
Based on her findings she created Mud Well, a light installation that gets its energy from the bacteria in the muddy soil of an Second World War bomb-crater. The ecosystem that she found in the so called ‘Bommengat’ is one of the strongest she has ever encountered. The crater has turned out to be the perfect place for these microbes. One of the reasons is that there is always an abundance of organic material and that it is quite closed off from various other influences like the sea or rivers. The water-filled crater thus functions almost as a closed ecosystem.
Currently van Dongen is investigating the possibility to create a consumer-friendly light installation that will get its energy from these organisms that she found in the bomb-crater. A future owner of this product would have to take care and nurture its lamp by feeding it once a week with tap water with a tea spoon of vinegar. Van Dongen believes that this can result in a closer relationship between the (living) object and it’s owner.
More Teresa van Dongen > 02.12.2014
Photos: Nichon Glerum and Alex Hamstra