This project fits within the larger objective of creating sustainable beehives, a goal which has been pursued by the artist during the past decade. She has already built a series of ‘Intelligent Guerilla Beehives’, sometimes in the form of speculative designs but often also physically realized and inoculated with live bee colonies. The sustainable beehive is intended as a safe haven for honey bees and a monitoring station to track the health and behaviour of the colony.
The present project focuses on making the hive self-sufficient in terms of the electric energy that powers the sensors and built-in electronics, using a radically innovative power source in the form of photosynthetic bacteria. The bacteria have to form a biofilm that is sustained by an underlying growth medium thriving on an exoskeleton.
The project pursues radical innovation by using an integrated organic approach based on biophysics and molecular biology and by exploiting the possibilities for 3d printing and digital fabrication offered by fab labs. The project is at the same time a source for stunning artworks, showing the beehives themselves, 3d models and sketches, results of the environmental monitoring, close up views of the fascinating world of bacterial photosynthesis, a.o.
AnneMarie Maes’ goal is to create sustainable beehives. To reach the goal of creating biosensors for the beehives, she partnered with the Applied Photosynthesis project from the Faculty of Science, Biophysics Photosynthesis/Energy of VU University Amsterdam. The team studies photosynthetic organisms and their ability to generate electricity. During their time together, the residency members focused their efforts on algae and cyanobacteria. Thanks to her Do It Yourself philosophy, the artist spent a lot of time growing algae, observing the photosynthesis and experimenting unplanned things.
Artwork L'Origine du Monde - Exhibited at CENTQUATRE- Paris during the STARTS Residencies Days - February 28 to March 1st, 2020
As final artwork AnneMarie Maes created the installation ‘L’Origine du Monde’ which shows a strongly enlarged bacterial chain made from glass cells. Every cell is filled with cyanobacteria producing real-time photosynthesis. Together they form a complex microbial population that communicates via quorum sensing and reduces CO2 emission from the air, whilst producing oxygen and biopolymers. Due to these qualities, the bacterial chain can be qualified as an active biological interface.
Interview with Annemarie Maes during the STARTS Residencies Days 2020 - CENTQUATRE, Paris