The form of the Petri dish and material of agar present some other aesthetic opportunities for me to consider as part of this project.

Agar is also used in a lab experiment to demonstrate diffusion, which is the process of solutes (material dissolved in a solution) moving from a high concentration to low concentration. Dyes are dropped onto the agar and then they extent of the area they spread over is observed and recorded. This shows different molecular weights, and is used to visualise osmosis (UND, Biology 101, 1997).

The use of dye in this experiment presents me opportunity to introduce colour and a material akin to ink or paint. The diffusion still has some unpredictable elements (like the growth of microbes) as I won’t know exactly where it will end up. The conversation with the unknown is one of the features of this project that I am finding really interesting and enticing.

As far as I know, diffusion dyes and microbes are not normally used together on a single plate. It would be interesting to see if/how they affect one another.

I don’t have access to diffusion dyes but as an experiment of my own, I have selected some materials from my artist studio- marbling ink (oil based), watercolour paint, and metallic acrylic paint. I don’t know whether diffusion will occur, but it is worth seeing what could happen! I am keen to use materials that are to hand where possible because it links better to the space and reality of the artist studio, rather than buying-in project specific materials.

Using a plate that hasn’t been inoculated, I dropped 3 drops of each paint/ink onto the agar. For the watercolour and acrylic, I had to use a paintbrush to get it out of the pallet. The marbling ink has it’s own dropper. For the purposes of this test, I chose shades of green and blue, as they reference food mould colours (such as on bread). I also punctured the agar with a point to allow the dye to sink down into it.

I will now leave this plate and observe what happens to the dye and agar over the next few days.


University of North Dakota (1997) Laboratory #4 – DIFFUSION & OSMOSIS. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 January 2017].