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Jewellery & Metal (MA)

Kexin Liu

Kexin Liu is a London-based artist and design researcher.

She received a BA in Spatial Design from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing) in 2019,  where her study focused on the narrative environment in exhibition and display.

During her time at the RCA, Kexin has developed practice-based research focused on creating generative artworks with various living autonomous systems.

Her cutlery design Commensality 2021 was shortlisted for the Contemporary Cutlery Design Competition award, and her MA dissertation on queer ecology was awarded a distinction by the RCA.

Degree Details

School of Arts & HumanitiesJewellery & Metal (MA)

Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, Third floor

Kexin Liu-statement

I have always been fascinated by the non-human lifeforms around me. For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of doing artwork with houseplants, AI algorithms, and the bacteria living in my body. Their sense of agency and unique intelligence have never ceased to amaze me. And I am truly grateful for the elements of randomness and spontaneity that they brought into my art practice.

I would like to extend my thanks to my two collaborators Jiajing Zhao and Mariana Neves for their brilliant work. And my heartfelt gratitude also goes to Zhiyuan Cao, and Keira Tucker at ASCUS Art & Science for their generous technical support. This project would not have been possible without you.

Anthotype Self-portrait: bacteria pigment, silk, 60mm×160mm.

3067 — Bacterial Soundscape , media item 1
Vinyl Record:
Vinyl Record: Bacteria pigment, vinyl, resin, 300mm×300mm.
3067 — Bacterial Soundscape , media item 3
3067 — Bacterial Soundscape , media item 4
Bacteria Catalogue:
Bacteria Catalogue: Hand-bound book with bacteria pigment screen printed cover, 235mm ×235mm.
3067 — Bacterial Soundscape , media item 6
Clamshell Box:
Clamshell Box:Bacteria dyed silk book cloth, paper, 340mm×340mm.
3067 — Bacterial Soundscape , media item 8

3067 — Bacterial Soundscape 

Inspired by the experience of failing to fully control my moods and thoughts while in depression, I started the research on microorganisms living in the human body and their impact on our sense of “self”, which eventually lead to the questioning of human individuality and identity.

Named after the number of bacteria species detected in my body, this project looks into the millions of tiny organisms that constitute who I am as a person.

Through 16s amplicon sequencing, the bacterial make-up was analyzed and then translated into soundscapes. After that this sonic information was later embedded in a vinyl record coloured with Serratia marcescens, a pigment-producing bacteria that can be found in human body.

Bacterial Soundscape Playlist
Bacteria Samples
Bacteria SamplesBacteria samples collected from oral & nasal cavity, gut, skin, and vagina.
Bacteria Composition
Bacteria CompositionThe four charts show the results of annotated bacteria composition in four samples. Circles from inside to outside stand for different taxonomic ranks, and the area of the sector means the respective proportion of different OTU annotation results.

Soundscape Production

The record is split into four tracks, each corresponding to a different site on my body where bacteria were sampled (oral & nasal cavity, gut, skin, and vagina). The sonic information for each track correlates with the composition and abundance of bacteria species that inhabit that specific body part. The soundscape itself is a mix of human interpretation and a literal transcription of the information on the bacteria that exist in these sites. For identifiable bacteria, sound objects were created based on their physical/behavioural characteristics. For unclassified species, their DNA sequence was translated in a linear fashion by assigning different frequencies to each nucleotide.

Experimentation with Bacteria Dye
Experimentation with Bacteria DyeTextile samples made with Serratia marcescens (prodigiosin), arthrobacter polychromogenes (indigoidine), and Janthinobacterium lividum (violacein).

Behrens Foundation Bursary