Pasts & Futures | Interventions

Colour culture: Biomaterial Ecoliteracy

Collective Bactinctorium


Vanessa Mardirossian is a textile designer for fashion for over twenty years. Concerned about the polluting impact of her industry, she studies sustainable ways of approaching textile materiality. As part of her doctorate, she develops natural and non-toxic dyes from bacteria that feed on food waste. Her research, combining art and science, focusses on developing a design ecoliteracy, namely a better understanding of the impact of our productions on ecosystems. She teaches at the École Supérieure de Mode de l’Uqam (ESM) where she focusses on the eco-responsible approach to textile design. Her research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

WhiteFeather Hunter is an internationally recognized Canadian artist and scholar. She is currently a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, Australian Government Commonwealth Scholar and Postgraduate Scholar at the University of Western Australia, situated between the School of Human Sciences (SymbioticA International Centre of Excellence for Biological Art) and the UWA School of Design. WhiteFeather's practice investigates vital materiality through biotechnological protocols, witch/craft, performance and new media. She presents work internationally, recently at Ars Electronica (AT), KIKK Festival (BE), University of the Arts Helsinki (FI) and in numerous North American cities. Her PhD thesis is a transdisciplinary research-creation project that fuses tissue engineering and eco-feminist witchcraft.

Geneviève Moisan completed her MFA in Fibres and Material Practices at Concordia University in 2016. Her research interests are based on the historical and technical study of ancient textiles to preserve the labour-intensive techniques used in the past through the means of the digital. Her favorite computerized tools are the Jacquard loom and different embroidery machines. A good part of her practice consists in collaborating with different artists and researchers which whom she shares her skills and ideas. Working across different textile techniques ranging from weaving, embroidery, goldwork, tapestry, soft electronics, and natural and bacterial printing and dyeing, she also teaches as Part-time Faculty at Concordia University.

Alexandra Bachmayer is a Montréal/Tiohtià:ke-based interdisciplinary artist and researcher exploring hybrid ecologies through her digital, textile, and bio-material practice. Whether developing haptic performance garments or textile dyes with pigment-producing bacteria, her work is largely centered on themes of connectivity, playfulness, ephemerality, and softness. She was a research assistant at XS Labs and matralab, contributing to the fields of electronic textiles and music performance through the body:suit:score project and is the costume designer for Petrikor Danse’s Habitat, fusing soft electronics, bioplastics, and contortion dance. Her work has been presented at the Visual Voice Gallery, HCII 2019, and the Centre Pompidou. She is currently the technician for the Speculative Life BioLab at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology at Concordia University.

They founded the collective Bactinctorium in 2017 in the Speculative Life Biolab of Concordia supported by a grant from the Textile & Materiality Cluster part of the Milieux Institute of Arts, Culture and Technology. This project consists of developing textile dyes through the use of microbiology techniques for growing bacteria.


Our presentation will explain the origin of our research with Bacteria dyes and then our current research, focussing on bacteria fed on food waste to produce sustainable dyes.