Abstract- Expressive Bacteria: the Art of Photomicroscopy

In 1877 Robert Koch published the very first photomicrographs of bacteria. The quality of these photograms is, for the most part, outstanding. They are not printed in halftone, as are used today, but individually prepared prints. Nevertheless, when Koch invented the bacteriological method, photography was still in its evolving phase. To obtain photosensitive plates was a delicate process. Koch placed pre-eminent importance on the visualization of pathological agents. Considering his rival, Louis Pasteur, this was not self-evident.
However, I do neither intend to examine the functional role of photomicrographic pictures in the process of the production of bacteriological facts nor to reconstruct their evidental value in the history of microscopy and objectivity. Instead, I aim to make use of the methodological apparatus of art history to stain the aesthetic, non-intentional and non-utilitaristic patterns and configurations of photomicrographs. As a whole, my contribution undertakes to include Robert Koch's non-art, technological and scientific images in the history of new media. The paper will conclude with an outlook for current machine-assisted imaging technologies in microbiology like microarrays, ratiometric fluorescence microscopy or enhanced membrane visualization to address contemporary developments of a history which has started in Koch's time.