The Living Images Research Center opens to the Kymenlaakso Museum, Maritime Centre Vellamo on the 6th of September 2019. The exhibition includes the latest research results on yeastograms and older prints of yeast photographs. There will be real living images, the yeastograms, as well as videos of the yeastograms process. During the exhibition, the artist works in the research center and makes the yeastograms on site.
In the project called Living Images, yeastograms visual artist Johanna Rotko makes images with living material mainly with different yeast species. The artist cultivates yeast on growth mediums to create images. The process brings photographs to life as raster images are exposed onto cultivated yeast with Ultraviolet (405 – 365nm) LED lamps. The UV-lights kill/injure part of the yeast cells during the 48-hour exposure process. The picture is formed when the yeast cells sheltered by the black parts of the raster images survive and the other cells are killed or damaged by the UV-light. Through her artistic research process, the artist studies the images by photographing them for different lengths of time, exploring the world by artistic means with methods from the biosciences. She learned the technique from Pavillon_35 art group in 2013 in a workshop that was held with the Finnish Bioart Society. Since then she has been working with yeast images.
The theme for the artistic research has been a study of Rotko’s own relationship with nature and how her actions affect the environment. The research has confirmed the artist´s relationship with nature with a biocentric world view, which does not place people above nature. Art that uses live elements is based on manipulation of living matter, this is also the case with yeast images. After the exposure Rotko influences the images as little as she can and the creatures that grow on the images are in the environment or on the plate itself. The artist lets them be because nature does not need our care, even on a larger scale. She moves from the manipulator to the observer role and the yeast images return to the cycle of nature through biowaste disposal.