‘Mud Well’ by Teresa van Dongen is a light installation that gets its energy from bacteria

Under our feet lies a world full of micro-organisms, most of which perform important tasks in our environment. The Geobacter is a bacteria that can purify water while continuously excreting electrons to its surrounding.

Teresa van Dongen has been exploring these specific organisms since 2016 together with the Ghent University as a means to generate electricity for human use. For the 2019 Oerol Festival she investigated multiple places at the island Terschelling to see if she could find a new, strong ecosystem containing these energy providing microbes.

Based on her findings she created Mud Well, a light installation that gets its energy from the bacteria in the muddy soil of an old Second World War bomb-crater. The ecosystem that she found in the so called “Bommengat” is one of the strongest she has ever encountered.

The crater has turned out to be the perfect place for these microbes. One of the reasons is, that there is always an abundance of organic material and that it is quite closed off from various other influences like the sea or rivers. The water-filled crater thus functions almost as a closed cycle.

Commissioned by Oerol in co-curation with Atelier NL
Made possible by the Waddenacademy

Many thanks to the Ghent University and its Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET)

Photo credits
Nichon Glerum (photo 1)
Alex Hamstra (photo 2, 3 & 4)
Own archive (photo 5 & 6)

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