The Institute for
the Design of
Tropical Disease
2015 — On-going

w/ Mike Thompson — w/ Dr. Niels Verhulst + Prof. Willem Takken from The Laboratory of Entomology at Wageningen University & Research Centre (WUR)

The institute for the design of the tropical disease, developed in close collaboration with the Laboratory of Entomology at Wageningen University, attempts to reimagine tropical disease and its narratives.

Its on-going investigations are inspired by the performative history of tropical disease, considering the colonisation of bodies and spaces from the molecular, human and environmental scales. The project revisits tales of biopiracy in the history of medicine, retracing the story of quinine through botanical enterprises linked to the exploitation and commercialisation of this alkaloid. Reacting to anthropocentric views on disease transmission, the project experiments with the cultivation of artificial sweat, merging human skin bacteria with pig skin, to questioning anthropophilic notions of attractability through the behaviour of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main vector of malaria thought to have evolved to feed mainly on human blood.

Developing its own hybrid research instruments, such as Rain Rain Go Away!, the work addresses interactions between soil bacteria and atmospheric processes, to produce the molecules of environmental odours that communicate incoming 'rain' to mosquitoes.

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Photography by Gyalpo Batstra + Gert Jan van Rooij

2018, SCL