At birth the human is generally considered sterile. From the first seconds of life, the newborn’s gut is being colonised with microorganisms. In the following years microbe culture will grow immensely and be shaped by the body’s environment and social interactions. The genomes of these microbial symbionts, defined as the ‘microbiome’, outnumber human genomes by a factor of one to two. With over a thousand bacterial species living in our gut, the human body is filled with wildlife.
The microbiome is part of the unconscious system regulating immune functions, cognition, learning, and memory. Without microbes, humans would be unhealthy, non-social beings. Especially through body odour, the microbiome communicates information about their host to the outside world while responding to other microbiomes instinctively. This ability to influence behaviour has heralded the microbiome as the next frontier for health sciences, commerce, and even politics.
Investigating the consequences of design’s ability to influence instinctual behaviour, the installation A Wildlife presents three skin fragrances that act as a carrier for invisible communication and influencing.