Contact Lullabies:
Questioning Genetic Futures

Contact Lullabies is a speculative, critical design project. It looks at the significance of the human microbiome, evolving family dynamics and reproduction. As part of a three-person team we designed the concept, built a series of speculative objects and created a film to illustrate our idea.

The microbiome is now considered a “second genome” for humans. It carries biological and genetic information that can identify who you are, as well as contribute to social behaviors, personality and long-term health. Given this impact, we were interested in how the microbiome could be used to manipulate certain individual and family characteristics. For Contact Lullabies, we designed activities to bring an adult bacterial donor’s “hot spots” (parts of the body that carry particularly high concentrations of bacteria) into contact with a child’s. These daily rituals provided a way for parents, or any individual chosen, to take advantage of the susceptibility of the young biome and pass on particular traits to the infant.

What I Loved 
Contact Lullabies called into question the concepts of fixed biology, inherited traits and genealogies. It opened up a space to reconsider what is a “biological parent” and how we can start to imagine different family structures and shared biologies. I am interested in critically exploring how fixed ideas about what is biological vs. environmental leads to what is considered acceptable or not acceptable in our society. When we push or reframe those boundaries, does this allow us to shift social divisions and discrimination that infect humanity?

Team Members
Andrea Morales, Stephanie Lukito
Faculty Advisors: Elliott Montgomery, Jamer Hunt