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.

Where to Find Materials

And a note on keeping safe during the Coronavirus

The only things you need to make your own PDA Fabric at home are

All of these things may already be lying around your house, if you know where to look. If not, they are generally accessible at your local general store. However, we encourage you to do what you can to social distance and limit contact with workers who may be unable to socially distance. Ordering online does not absolve you of these interactions, but may provide some extra added safety for most parties involved.

Discussion Questions

Things to think about while things grow

  1. Evaluate feelings of disgust. Disgust is an important tool for probing the boundaries of a society. What parts of the experiment inspire disgust? Revulsion? Does your disgust differ in its flavors? Does it fall along a spectrum? What are the axes of this spectrum? Does it include shame? Does it include curiosity?
  2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic crystallized or morphed your feelings toward microorganisms; your microbiome; the microscopic world in general, if it has at all?
  3. What kind of information do you expect to glean from an experiment like this? In what way is this 'self-knowledge' useful? In what ways is it useless? Is there anything useful about its uselessness?
  4. Try to imagine a sexual future. What role do microorganisms play in this sexual future? What role does plastic play?
Upon completion of your experiment, feel free to submit photographs of your PDA Fabric and/or a more-than-human ethnography of your experiment’s results to fornoveltyuseonly@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Reading List

Panels and Exhibits That Pair Nicely

Making & Doing

Un/Doing human-microbiological coexistence in time of Covid-19 Wed, August 19, 8:00am to 6:00pm CEST (Tue, August 18, 11:00pm to Wed, August 19, 9:00am PDT), virPrague, VR M&D
Lab From A Chip Fri, August 21, 8:00am to 8:00pm CEST (Thu, August 20, 11:00pm to Fri, August 21, 11:00am PDT), virPrague, VR M&D

Disgust Thu, August 20, 6:00 to 7:40pm CEST (9:00 to 10:40am PDT), virPrague, VR 19
The Microbiomisation of Race: (Individual) Capital, Food Cultures and Microbial Embodiment Tue, August 18, 12:00 to 1:40pm CEST (3:00 to 4:40am PDT), virPrague, VR 13
Uncertain Subjects and Imprecise Medicine: Discussing Food, Bodies and Direct to Consumer Microbiome Tests Thu, August 20, 8:00 to 9:40pm CEST (11:00am to 12:40pm PDT), virPrague, VR 02
Making, Having, Thinking: Sex, Technology and Science (2) Tue, August 18, 12:00 to 1:40pm CEST (3:00 to 4:40am PDT), virPrague, VR 06
Situating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) 2: locations, spaces and borders Fri, August 21, 10:00 to 11:40am CEST (1:00 to 2:40am PDT), virPrague, VR 17


Curious about who's behind it?

This project was created by a team of recent 2020 graduates, the class of COVID-19. Some of us are currently seeking jobs and higher degrees. If you think you have an opportunity for us (a term we use nebulously), please do not hesitate to reach out at fornoveltyuseonly@gmail.com.