OBSCURING the skin microbiome by creating an ‘Obscuration Solution’ from a diverse selection of bacteria.


In this experiment, the goal was “obscuration by anonymization.” The bacteria in and on our bodies is useful and necessary for many health reasons. Therefore, it is better to obscure it than to destroy it. In addition, we found that DIY destruction of bacteria in fecal samples proved less effective than we predicted. In this experiment we aimed to create an “obscuration solution” that would anonymize the bacteria on your skin by essentially adding noise.


The MSA collected a diverse selection of bacteria-rich items from many locations and mixed them into one unique “synthetic ecosystem.” Obtaining samples from beaches and zoos, to asian markets and old refrigerators, these bacteria-filled items were combined in a blender and sent to a lab where the DNA from the mixture was extracted, amplified, and then added to mediums to be applied to the skin.





For the original “obscuration solution,” bacteria from eleven items were combined:


> red ruffed lemur feces
> greater rhea feces
> white-faced saki feces
> kefir
> epoisse cheese
> kombucha 1
> kombucha 2
> natto
> compost
> kimchi
> soil
> seaweed


The result was a DNA solution representing a new synthetic ecosystem of bacteria. When applied to the skin, the information from your own skin microbiome is obscured by this added content. Testing to prove the effectiveness of this “obscuration solution” is currently underway.



Tree showing similarities between mix items



Abundance of 30 most prevalent bacteria found in the mix