As above, so below: from macrocosm to microcosm, towards an aesthetic of a familiar freshwater microbial ecosystem.

“That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above.”

A common interpretation of the above verse refers to the correspondences between the macrocosm and the microcosm. In this context, here is a garden pond, a familiar freshwater ecosystem and microcosm of much larger freshwater bodies in the wider natural world.

The pond is a magnet for wildlife and its surface teems with insect life: flies, beetles, and dragonflies. Here, the activity of these is converted into trails, using algorithmic photography, as these lifeform skim over the pond’s surface. As is also the case for larger natural bodies of natural freshwater, the life that exists above the surface of the pond (in a sense the macrocosm) is supported by, and dependent upon, a usually invisible microbiological ecology (in a sense the microcosm) that thrives beneath the pond’s surface. Samples of pond water were taken and imaged with DIC microscopy at 100-times magnification.  In real-time the microbes appear as small illuminated motile (moving with apparent purpose) cells against a dark background. When imaged with algorithmic photography the movement of these is converted into tracks that can be seen in the still images, in which they appear as dualities, that is combined particles and waves. The tracks that are straight lines, are made by motes of microscopic detritus as it moves in a constant microscopic current.  

DIC microscopy and algorithmic photography reveal the activity of the usually invisible microbiological community that supports all life above and beneath the pond’s surface.
DIC microscopy and algorithmic photography reveal the activity of the usually invisible microbiological community that supports all life above and beneath the pond’s surface.
DIC microscopy and algorithmic photography reveal the activity of the usually invisible microbiological community that supports all life above and beneath the pond’s surface.
DIC microscopy and algorithmic photography reveal the activity of the usually invisible microbiological community that supports all life above and beneath the pond’s surface.
Algorithmic photography reveals the activity of the visible life that lives just above the surface of a garden pond.
Algorithmic photography reveals the activity of the visible life that lives just above the surface of a garden pond.
Algorithmic photography reveals the activity of the visible life that lives just above the surface of a garden pond.
Algorithmic photography reveals the activity of the visible life that lives just above the surface of a garden pond.

2 thoughts on “As above, so below: from macrocosm to microcosm, towards an aesthetic of a familiar freshwater microbial ecosystem.

  1. I appreciate the work you are doing, having always been interested and intrigued in pond life. The images of what is so often invisible to us are mysterious and beautiful. As an artist who works both with paint, ink and thread, they are compelling reasons to keep on looking and working!

    Thank you,
    Judith

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