MICROBE PSYCHIC



2021
#speculative-design, #bio-design?


Instructors

Andrew Friend, Sitraka Rakotoniaina, Ben Hooker

Tools

Toilet paper rolls, Fusion 360, Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effect


Design Brief

The goal of the project is to experiment with a technological prototype that amplify a superpower that mixes the epic and the everyday. Motivated by my own poor gut health, I went down the rabbit hole of uncovering the invisible, seemingly negligible and amazing gut microbiome. As many scientific studies have suggested, gut microbiome is deeply connected to our immune system, aging, gut health and mental health. For example, a study shows that gut microbes affects psychological stress levels. Germ-free mice were stressed out compared to specific pathogen-free mice because the Germ-free mice have less protein [Brain-deprived-neurotropic-factor] that deals with stress and learning.

Apart from the health implications, our microbiomes also inidicate the traces of our lives, where we have been, who we have interacted with, what have we been consuming. With all the interesting findings of our microbiome, I envision myself as a Microbe Psychic who can see and analyze people’s microbiome, collect them and share them with those in need. In order to collect the microbiome more effectively, I invented a Microbe Extractor with replacable culture tubes attached, that allows me to collect microbiome on the go.


Final Delivery


︎︎︎A comic strip that shows the superpower of microbe psychic ︎︎︎


Since we coexist with the microorganisms and they bring a great deal of benefit to our lives, I wish to take the edge off of the grossness and the aversion that we associate with fecal matter with the visual style of the project. Transposing the conept of fecal transplant, I share the microbiomes that I collect from feces and make them into ice cream toppings. 




Design Process

︎︎︎Why does microbiome matter and how does it affect our everyday life? It is also shocking to see how immigrants’ microbiome diversity deteriorates after they move to the US. ︎︎︎



How will the prototype work? How does it look like? What does my world look like as a microbe psychic? Does my prototype look like some pristine medical equipment? How sanitized should the extracting process be?




Is it possible to apply the concept of fecal transplant to my superpower? How do I magnify the benefits of healthy/or unhealthy microbiome? As a microbe psychic, I should tailor my entire lifestyle to cultivate the most diverse and healthy microbiome.


How can I actuually share my ice cream with people? Do I have an ice cream truck? Do I have a lab? Do I ask people to send their fecal matter to me? How do I show the look and feel of my world?



Reflection

It is a 5-week project that I have limited amount of time to explore the potential superpower of microbe psychic. I wish I have put more thoughts into how I will be using the prototype with my superpower, and the potentials of the prototype itself. However, I see the final delivery for this project a starting point, and I hope to continue working on it after the end of the semester. Hopefully, we will have more comic strips of microbe psychic coming!