ECOTONO: Portrat of the air

Biomedial installation and performatic artwork / 2020-current (ongoing project)

Ecotone, derived from the Greek eco – (oikos or household) and tone, (tones or tension), is a place where the ecological components are in tension.  This is the transition zone between two or more different ecological communities (biocenosis).

This transdisciplinary project, called "Portrat of the air", consist on capture air samples from different areas of the city Santiago of Chile and its surroundings, with a special instrument. Secondly, the samples were processed in a laboratory through a nanoscale tracking process, revealing the microparticles present in the air samples. Finally, this images were photo-chemically transferred to biofilms.

The product is an artwork that develop an aesthetic interconnection from the micro to the macro environment; from the visible and the “no visible”; and also, as a small portrait of the bio-social dynamics of a big capital city.


Step 1: Capturing air samplers

The firs process consisted on  capturing air particles from 9 places of Sanitago, Chile. This places were selected in relation with the conception of "One Health" (United Nations), in wich Nature, Animals and Humans are in an armonic triad. Here, the society is represented by education (schools), health (hospitals), and economy (free market, public transport and urban work). The instrument used for captured the air particles were Coriolis Microportable Air Sampler.

Los Andes mountains

Metro "Universidad de Chile"

Animal Farm




Step 2: Revealing  and analyzing the air particles in its nano scale

The samplers were processed on two different laboratories: 

a) PCR Test, for checking living and non-living material between the captured particles. In this first process in three of the nine places, it were found SARS-COV 2, Omicron variants.

b) Nanoparticle tracking analysis (Nanosight). The quantity, concentration, type of particles, among other data, were obtained. Also, this process gives us video and still images of the nanoparticles into the air samplers.

PCR process on the air samplers

Nanoparticle tracking analysis. Data and video obtained (above and below)


Step 3: Creating the images; a visual portait of the air

The obtained nanoparticles images were printed through a photochemical process (cyanotipe) over biofilms. This biomaterial is composed by agar-agar, in an dedicated recipe to develop a biofilm that supported the cyanotipe process.

Fabrication of the biofilms

Photoprinting of cyanotipes over the agar-agar biofilms.


First exhibition

In August 2022, it was mounted the first exhibition of "Ecotone:Portrait of the air" , in Cava Gallery, in Santiago of Chile. This installation exhibited the nine placed where air samplers were captured, through an optical and liuminical arrangement, that presented cyanotipes , audiovisual material (registers of the proess and the social ecosystem of the nine areas), the fabrication process and the scientific data: