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."