For Novelty Use Only: DIY Methods of Assessing Sexual Health Microbiomes

Hazelle Lerum, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Runa Archer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Xen Riccardi, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

virPrague 20: Experiments in Collaboration and Critical Participation

Our digital object showcases our zine, For Novelty Use Only: DIY Methods of Assessing Sexual Health Microbiomes, its history, and instructions for an at-home biomaterial experiment. These resources will lead the participant in an experiment in constructing a biologically viable medium for fungi, algae, and bacteria in their own home, intended for use on the participant’s sex toys/adjacent anatomies and objects. The resultant organisms will form colonies within several days that are large and colorful enough for identification using the naked eye referring to our Sexy Microbiota Field Guide. This project challenges the type of research that can happen within and without the traditional bio-lab setting, and invites participants to explore multispecies ecologies both inside and outside their bodies. Our aim is to spark conversation around how the materiality of sexual pleasure facilitates or discourages certain types of organisms, and what this means for the immunocompromised, queer sexuality, and the eroticism of new materials in the wake of new wastestreams. The only materials required for this at-home experiment are facing fabric, corn syrup, and a potato.