As it is clear now that the original concept for this project can not be realized in the given timeframe, a different concept has to be implemented for the installation that is going to be shown at the Naturalis. One that is still interesting and de-mystifies genetic manipulation, but that is also feasible to do.
The new concept revolves around creating an installation, that produces drawings based on user input. Imagine your visit to the installation: go there, draw your icon, have the machine do the work, and then you get a plate to take home with you. Wait overnight or two days, and you have your DNA-transformed own picture yourself!
Of course, I will still be working on the original dynamic display concept, at least to the extent that we know what would it take to actually reach that goal.
Imagine a simple 16×16 or 32×32 pixel icon drawing interface, where you can create your simple sketch. This input the drives a mechanism, that works on a plate of bacteria. The mechanism will make parts of the bacteria express GFP and thus glow, while other parts remain without having GFP expressed, and thus dark. After the machine is done doing its manipulations, it takes some time (a day, maybe two) for the work to be expressed.
Pretty much like making a photograph: you take a picture, develop it in a lab, and wait for some time until the picture develops. Remember: in early photography, these timescales were on the order of hours as well.
Technically speaking, the machinations done by the installation would either be the DNA transformation itself on a some parts of the plate, while not on the others. This is quite difficult to do, as DNA transformation is a complicated process, you have to heat shock the bacteria, etc.
A simpler solution is to have bacteria all over that has the GFP-producing DNA in it, but this DNA needs arabinose to actually express the fluorescent protein. So the machine would just selectively put arabinose unto parts of the plate that need to glow.
Mechanically all this will be done by modifying a fab@home 3D fabber, and creating a syrenge in it that is capable of the above feats.