Methanogen Polyptych is a public artwork by Buster Simpson, commissioned by the San José Public Art Program, Office of Cultural Affairs. The integrated infrastructure project is sited at the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility's Co-Generation Plant in San Jose, California.
Methanogen Polyptych, is a set of four panels pierced in stainless steel that serves as overlay using screens installed on the Co-Generation Plant public facade which presents a pixelated image of methanogenic microbes as seen through an electron microscope. Methane producing microbes create energy from a byproduct of the digesters anaerobic processes that then powers the regional wastewater facility.
The frieze is composed of four 10' wide by 40' high stainless steel panels with laser pierced imagery, similar to a halftone image. It functions as a scrim, activated by natural and LED lighting to create visual interplay between biology and infrastructure. In the evening, the LED illuminated vent stacks seem to appear behind the biological scrim as bottles with microbes floating within, suggesting a view inside the digester. The message in the bottle? Microbes are the invisible workers that power the plant.