The use of E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria in biotechnology and microbiology has been foundational to the development of the field of genetic engineering. The bacteria have a long history in laboratory culture and are one of the most widely studied model organisms. In 1997 the first complete DNA sequence of an E. coli genome was published, and today advanced database tools give anybody the ability to explore this genome with unprecedented ease.
Through the PathwayTools software system developed by SRI International an overview of E. coli's metabolic pathways can be generated. This overview was used as a blueprint for A.C.I.D. Individual biosynthesis modules were analyzed for their amino-acid components and chemical reactions, and subsequently transcoded into audio modules using a custom designed granular synthesis technique. Together these modules form a generative audio instrument that plays the inner life of an E. coli bacterium.
For the installation the instrument's audio is spatialised and played on a nine channel speaker setup. The speakers are distributed through space sculpturally to create a dynamic surround sound environment. This environment gives the visitor the opportunity to experience what it might be like to hear activity on the nano scale.