Zone of Inhibition suggests a reconsideration of our relationship to microbial bodies, particularly in the context of laboratory practices. It is a short film based on activities that took place during the first artist-led genetic modification workshop in Scotland, created by artist Louise Mackenzie in collaboration with Dr Ana Topf and Dr Stephanie Carr of the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle, UK and ASCUS Art and Science, Edinburgh, UK in 2017. In the workshop, Mackenzie brought her personal engagement with micro-organisms in a laboratory to a public forum, sharing a vital materialist approach to our relationship to the microbial other through imaginative and anthropomorphic interaction. Zone of Inhibition explores a speculative space of encounter between micro-organisms and humans. The title of the film refers to the threshold space in which microbial growth is inhibited as a result of antibiotics – a space in which microbes encounter humanity’s resistance to them as other. Using darkness as a cover of anonymity, Mackenzie facilitates a dialogue between the speculative kin of microbes and those who have genetically modified them.
Louise Mackenzie works across contemporary visual art, new media (bio) art and sound. Her recent research explores the more-than-human concept of lively material through process-based and participatory art practice and feminist science studies. She is a member of the Cultural Negotiation of Science research group, Northumbria University, an Associate of the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University and holds a PhD in Fine Art from BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art. Louise has spoken at RE:SOUND 2019 Denmark, TransImage2018 Edinburgh, ISEA2017 Colombia, ISEA2016 Hong Kong, Leonardo LASER London and Sonic Environments 2016 Brisbane. Her artworks have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Pomona Museum of Art, California (USA), Unhallowed Arts, Perth (Australia), National Library of Spain, Madrid (Spain), BALTIC CCA and BALTIC39, Newcastle (UK), Charles Darwin House, London (UK), Basement 6 Collective, Shanghai (China), National Taiwan University of the Arts (Taiwan), Summerhall, Edinburgh (UK), Lumiere Durham (UK) and Fort Process, Newhaven (UK).