The Protist Paintings: Rotifers

Rotifers, also called wheel animalcules, are microscopic animals that are very common in freshwater environments throughout the world. The word “Rotifer” is derived from a Latin word meaning “wheel-bearer” because of the appearance of the corona around the mouth, which draws in water containing food particles, and which because its concerted sequential motion, resembles the motion of two moving wheels or two circular saws. Here Rotifers collected from my garden have been mixed with white watercolour paint and imaged with DIC microscopy, and algorithmic photography, in order to reveal and map, not the particular Rotifers themselves, but their reach and impact on their local environment as they generate powerful and far-reaching (on their scale) microscopic currents and flow. In a sense, much as a human artist would move paint around in order to paint, these are also paintings, but microscopic ones made as these animalcules move paint (here microscopic particles of a white watercolour) around the natural canvas of their own environments. 

In realtime the powerful currents generated by the rotifers, as they feed and suck in prey, can be seen as rapidly moving white dots, which are particles of the watercolour paint. By using algorithmic photography the movement of these can be tracked in order to reveal trails of light which map the powerful currents generated by the microscopic rotifers. Magnification, 100-times.

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