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Friday, September 11, 2015

Ukiyo-e Art Made From Mold

In days of mold, er, I mean old... or maybe I do mean mold... we can see here the "Great Wave Of Candida", a clever play on words and correctly spelled, I might add.

The image, which I am sure most of you will recognize, is a representation of the famous ukiyo-e image "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" by noted Japanese artist Hokusai Katsushika (surname first), though he really best know via his art name of Hokusai. Ukiyo-e artists used to assume names when they stopped 'interning' and became real artists. His real name was Tokitarō, perhaps with the surname of Nakajima... perhaps... so Hokusai will do, ne?  

 Officially, the original ukiyo-e art is known as "Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura", (神奈川沖浪裏), which translates to "In the well of a wave off Kanagawa." Depending on the publisher, it was first seen  in print sometime between 1830 and 1833.

I knew of this piece of artwork as a kid, and only knew that it looked cool and was by some dude called Hokusai… I have always called it a 'Hokusai wave' whenever I have seen its representation in everything from cartoon, comic books, tee-shirts and now… a yeast infection.

Thankfully not the way we think, rather this is a yeast culture that was purposely created using various molds.

I read the original description of this on some Facebook page - and let me just reiterate that scientists should never write their own copy when something is meant for public consumption.

Here's what was written:   

"Candida albicans is a yeast species that is part of the commensal microbiota of the body. Weakened or impaired immune system can lead to yeast infections mostly produced by Candida albicans, although other species like Candida parapsilosis, Candida glabrata and Candida tropicalis among others are increasing its incidence. So, like the great wave off Kanagawa, Candida albicans colonies are growing green in this chromogenic medium and supporting a wave crest formed by violet-smooth colonies of Candida glabrata and beige-rough colonies of Candida parapsilosis.

This photo was taken from our site Submitted by: Cristina Marcos Thanks to the author (s): Cristina Marcos Arias, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea"

It's okay, I speak jive. Here's what I believe they mean: The yeast molds that were used to create this 'Hokusai Wave' representation are from a different mold species, namely:
  • Candida albicans to create the green color;
  • Candida glabrata to create the violet wave crest;
  • Candida parapsilosis to create the beige color.
I would assume that swabs of the mold bacteria are artfully applied to the dish, and then as it grows, each mold type creates a portion of the Great Wave Off Kanagawa.

Simple. I suppose.

The whole thing is part of a contest to create the best art via mold, and was found by my very good friend Vince on a Facebook page HERE.

Is this artform dangerous? It depends, on the medium used, I suppose… but this one isn't. Still, I doubt you should eat it... what with it being art, and all that... mostly all that. 

Pretty damn cool, however, and is a testament to scientists having too much free time on their hands. Kidding. It's always good to be creative.

Andrew Joseph

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