Here’s another brief interlude away from microbiology. In the modern laboratory, the process of chromatography is very widely used to separate or to analyse complex mixtures. In the process, the mixture to be investigated is dissolved into a fluid (usually an organic solvent) called the mobile phase, which is then passed through a solid and porous medium called the stationary phase. As the various constituents of the mixture travel through the system at different speeds, they eventually separate. Using this same underlying principle sophisticated laboratory devices can purify, or identify, any soluble or volatile substance provided that the correct conditions are employed.
I was driven to explore chromatography, in an artistic sense, during the time that my mother, Judith Park, was terminally ill with breast cancer. I took flowers as the subject matter for this work as they are associated with funerals and have also attracted the eye of many an artist. At this time, I was also deeply aware that beautiful flower is only a temporary and fleeting state and so decided to use chromatography as a means to speed up its transformation into a decayed form. Immersed into a powerful solvent, the chromatographic mobile phase, the flower became the corresponding stationary phase. Within seconds it began to bleed, loosing that that had once made if beautiful to the surrounding liquid and as if releasing Munch’s red embedded eternity
“From My Rotting Body, Flowers Shall Grow, and I Am in Them, and That Is Eternity” Edvard Munch