Ryan Honaker

2023 Commensal: To Share Its Table

This piece consists of three multimedia pieces centered on Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as Brewer’s or Baker’s Yeast. Original abstract macro videography of yeast-based foodstuffs – bread dough and yeast extract (Marmite) – are combined with original ambient audio soundscapes generated from sonified genomic data. Two of the pieces also contain textual overlays of original poetry exploring the rich metaphors of yeasts as model organisms and fermentative symbiotes. S. cerevisiae was chosen as the project’s focus due to its historical and contemporary prominence, not only enabling the worlds of baking and brewing, but also providing the basis for much scientific research as a model organism, furthering our understanding of genetics and biochemistry.

We are seeking to stimulate artistic and intellectual engagement by exploring the unseen macro lives of yeasts visually, by making scientific data accessible to the senses, and by exploring the rich entwinement of our species with poetry. As working scientists (in microbiology and neuroscience) and active artists ourselves, we each have combined experience in both scientific communication and artistic representation which we can bring to this project; this will ensure both the scientific accuracy of the piece and the resonance of the metaphors we employ. 

The project is in collaboration with LeeAnn Perry and Jan Hendrich.