Michelle Glaser, Viktor Gentil, Patrizia Washer, Paul Watt, Stewart Washer: Apocrypha

  • ©2006, Michelle Glaser, Viktor Gentil, Patrizia Washer, Paul Watt, and Stewart Washer, Apocrypha



Artist(s) and People Involved:



Creation Year:


Artist Statement:

    The stimuli of text or voice message from visitors to the exhibition via their mobile phone elicits a chemical response from a colony of archaebacteria. This response is translated into text that the supplicant (or gallery visitor) is able to interpret and apply to everyday life.

    The archaebacteria response is actually a physical alteration that can be read as one of a series of numbers. These numbers are mapped using code-breaking principles of repetition and predicability onto corresponding lines of an ancient text to create an apparently meaningful response to the problem posed. The text that will be utilised as the source of wisdom is the Apocrypha (an ancient collection of sacred texts excluded from the canonised version of the Bible). Originally, apocryphal writing was considered to be a text of sacred origin, designated to be hidden until the due time of its revelation.

    Apocrypha is a satirical work that posits a colony of prehistorical archaebacteria as an ‘oracle’ able to divine answers to questions posed by ‘disciples’ who contact the archaebacteria by mobile phone.

    Apocrypha utilises the research and mapping of the protein codes of ancient bacteria (archaebacteria) undertaken by TIGR (The Institute for Genomic Research) www.tigr.org in Maryland, USA and the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, UK over the past decade. Simply, this research extends the traditional sense of the ?family tree? beyond now acknowledged relationships within the animal kingdom to include the vast, numerous genera of bacteria that precede and coexist with Homo Sapien.

    New discoveries of ancient archeabacteria – the earliest life forms on the planet continue to take place, deep in the core of the earth or embedded in ancient glaciers, for example. It is these life forms scientists hope to discover with interstellar probes. Interestingly, incarnations of these ancient archaebacteria also appear in our own cells as mitochondria, symbiotic energy-producing slaves to the nucleus that give us human form, and part of the continuing chain that links us to life?s earliest origins.

    Now is that time, made possible by the convergence of biological and computer technologies.


    PRION would like to acknowledge the assistance of ololo productions in the technical design and implementation of Apocrypha.