Cheese-making artists at Dublin's Science Gallery harvested human microbes to create a series of, ahem, artisanal cheeses. As part of Selfmade, an exhibition exploring the skin's ecosystem, bacteria from several artists and scientists were collected using sterile cotton swabs and cultured into cheeses featuring the microbial makeup of various body parts, including a belly button, a mouth, and even tears.
The project encourages the public to reconsider our relationship with living organisms that exist in both our food and body, hoping to shed light on how these common organisms can be manipulated into synthetic microbes.
"Despite [their] chemical and biological similarities, there are obviously very different cultural and emotional responses to stinky cheese and stinky feet," artist Christina Agapakis explained to DeZeen Magzine. "By making cheese directly from the microbes on the body, we want to highlight these bacterial connections as well as to question and potentially expand the role of both odours and microbes in our lives."
The artists held a wine and cheese pairing event, encouraging guests to smell the human cheeses -- no sampling, however, was allowed. The verdict? The cheeses' odors were true to their sources. "We were surprised by how not only do cheese and smelly body parts like feet share similar odor molecules but also have similar microbial populations," Agapakis noted.
Which leaves us with one pressing question: Are Salty Brie Tears the next frontier?