Ben Ditto is a creative director specialising in the execution of uncanny, utopian concepts that embrace beauty and technology. He directs moving image, CGI, creative coding projects, augmented reality and VR, print and live experience. Social media, internet culture and emerging technologies are integral to his practice.

About the project

"To celebrate Louis Vuitton's 200th birthday, I worked with scientists Marisa Zuk and Kenneth Robinson to revisit a previous pandemic; Cholera in 19th century Paris, during Louis Vuitton's youth. We sourced bacteria from the Vibrio cholera genus and used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to insert genes from two fluorescent protein plasmids into their DNA to express a bespoke glowing colour. We coated the trunk in horse blood agar, a bacterial nutrient, then painted the LV pattern on to the trunk using a suspension of the glowing bacteria. After documenting the resulting glow, we denatured the bacteria using formaldehyde, and encased the trunk in a vacuum sealed package. To illustrate pathogenicity at the cellular level we also used a fluorescent dye conjugated to a cholera toxin subunit to tag the membrane of hamster ovary cells for view under microscope. A vital part of the molecular machinery that enables cholera toxin to bind human cells, this part of the toxin can nowadays be used as a delivery vehicle for pharmaceuticals and vaccines. The piece is a statement on the influence of infectious disease on culture, representing the possibility that biotechnology can transform a contagion into an aesthetic medium, or tool for future therapeutics."

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