Subvisual Subway

Over the summer of 2015, Craig Ward rode the trains of each of New York City’s 22 subway lines, collecting bacterial samples from hand rails, seats and other high traffic surfaces. 

The samples were taken using sterilized sponges that had been pre-cut into the letter or number of the subway line from which the sample was to be taken – A, C, 1, 6 etc etc. The swabs were then pressed into pre-poured agar plates – their circular shape echoing the graphic language of the subway – and incubated for up to a week in my workshop, and photographed at various stages of development before being safely neutralized and disposed of.

The resulting images are a portrait of the city’s complex ecosystem that each of us contribute to and an excellent visual analogy for the subway and city at large. They hopefully also serve as a reminder that in a city that can make you feel small, there are countless billions of smaller inhabitants.