I read J. G. Ballard’s “The Crystal World” as a teenager, and it profoundly influenced my developing mind and I’ve had an obsession with the process of crystallisation ever since, and this spontaneous emergence of a brittle kind of order from the mobile and mundane chaos of the solution is an aesthetic that I have frequently explored. When the crystallisation process occurs it’s as if some entropic quality has been removed allowing life’s molecules to default into an often beautiful order.
In the videos here, I use a carefully prepared and poised crystallising solution that I have developed. Its molecules sit on the knife-edge between the liquid and solid states of matter, so that small perturbations in their environment or their mixing with other substances immediately induces the crystallisation process.
In this latest exploration of crystallisation, I mixed the solution above with soil and observed subsequent events using a Differential Interference Contrast microscope. It’s very clear from this work that the soil influences the process of crystallisation (compare the control with no soil to those samples containing soil) as if some latent energy is directing the process, steering the emerging shards into otherwise invisible fractures.
This is the control sample without soil (above)