Fig. C: Microbial body intelligence. By turning matters of fact into matters of concern, as Bruno Latour has suggested, and then treating them as matters of care, after Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, the laboratory became a place of companioned and playful experiment. When samples had matured in the incubator, we launched a clairvoyant event to let each participant hear the outcome of their microbial culture. Turning laboratory activity and scientific predictions into magical readings of petrifilms and dipslides was to turn visualisations and representations that laboratory tools provide into something else. Instead of providing a clinical verdict, we caringly turned microbial companions of the body away from the medical gaze to give them an active and relational position: fostering community instead of objectifying other species. Speculating about microbial agency gave space for humans and microbes to create new assemblages or actor-networks. We saw the microbes emerging from the petrifilms but used intuition and magical readings to interpret what they were revealing to us. We did not explain microbes; they participated.
Prophecies with microbial samples required getting intimate during the Labracadabra performance: bodies were incited to rub against each other, using body parts according to the samples lifted from the ‘microbial tarot deck’ in order to make human-microbial communities enter into new assemblages in unpredictable ways, and at the same time break the ice between bodies. Labracadabra offered us human-holobionts to attune to our bodies and unsure/quiet/non-verbal knowledge/affects/feelings, where wisdom of the microbes may also reside (photograph by the Labracadabra team).