The Hidden Principle of Combustion

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“Combustion is the hidden principle behind every artefact we create. The making of a fish-hook, manufacture of a china cup, or production of a television programme, all depend on the same process of combustion. Like our bodies and like our desires, the machines we have devised are possessed of a heart which is slowly reduced to embers. From the earliest times, human civilization has been no more than a strange luminescence growing more intense by the hour, of which no one can say when it will begin to wane and when it will fade away.” Inspired by W.G Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn”  Interesting but not quite what I planned. More work needed

We Colonized The Moon First

The Bioluminescent Moon. The light here is being generated by bioluminescent and has unique and lure-like qualities

The Bioluminescent Moon. The light here is being generated soley by bioluminescent bacteria and has unique and lure-like qualities

Four Moonflowers imaged in daylight

Four Moonflowers imaged in daylight

Four Moonflowers imaged in the dark so that their biolumiescence becomes apparen

Four Moonflowers imaged in the dark so that their biolumiescence becomes apparen

In total, twenty-four humans have travelled to the Moon, and twelve have walked on its surface.  In the 41 years since  Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan climbed from the moon’s dusty surface up the rungs of the Lunar Module and became “the last man on the moon, our understanding of what it means to be human has changed radically. We know now that the bacterial cells in our bodies outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1, and because of this we can no longer consider ourselves to be isolated physiological islands that are capable of independent self-sufficiency.  In fact, we exist as a complex ecosystem and social network containing body cells,  but also trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit our skin, mouth and especially intestines.

If we now consider the moon landings in this new context, then unimaginable numbers of bacteria have already visited the moon. I was reminded of this two years ago when a bacterium called Streptococcus mitis colonized  my aortic heart valve, and in the process nearly killed me.  Apparently, the same bacterium  was carried to the moon on the Surveyor 3 probe where it survived for two years.

This work playfully refers to “The Republic of The Moon”, an upcoming and exciting  art exhibition that seeks  to re-examine our relationship with our planet’s only natural satellite. It imagines that the many bacteria, that were inadvertently left behind after the moon landings,  survived and are evolving into new and exotic extra-terrestrial ecologies. As they do on Earth now, these bacteria will evolve to form complex and bioluminescent structures which I call moonflowers. In the future, these will cover the entire surface of the moon so it that it becomes bioluminescent. The light emitted by bioluminescent bacteria has an ancient evolutionary power and acts as a  beguiling lure for prey or mates, and in this context, perhaps the moon’s new inhabitants are luring us back to it, but for what purpose?

Asorbate and Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium. Here the remains of the microscopic organism are embedded with the crystal and small jet of cytoplasmic material is evident

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium. Here the remains of the microscopic organism are embedded within the crystal and a small jet of cytoplasmic material is evident

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization without Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization without Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization without Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization without Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

Ascorbate crystalization with Paramecium

I thought “what would happen if I mixed the microscopic organism Paramecium with ascorbate and allowed it to crystalize”. Would the organism become preserved within the crystals like a microfossil,  or would the properties of the living organism influence the crystalization process. It seems like the latter happened. The forms are very different in the presence of life, as if the energies of the paramecium’s small life had become trapped in the crystals.

C-MOULD NEW ACQUISITION: Pyrocystis fusiformis

Pyrocystis, Magnification 100x, DIC Microscopy

Pyrocystis, Magnification 100x, DIC Microscopy

Still image of a shaken vessel

Still image of a shaken vessel

Still image of a shaken vessel

Still image of a shaken vessel

Still image of a shaken vessel

Still image of a shaken vessel

C-MOULD the world’s largest collection of microorganisms for use in the arts, and design is pleased to anounce that it has acquired Pyrocystis fusiformis. This is a large marine bioluminescent alga. During the night, its cells produce a stiking  blue light when disturbed. Here bioluminescence is induced by gentle tapping on the side of a culture vessel. These organsisms are available for biolumnecent swimming pools, wishing wells and fountains….