To paint with protocells
‘When I Feel Like Nature May Give Up’
‘When I Feel Like Nature May Give Up’ is a combination of a drawing and a film. These works explore a spontaneous drawing technique, using protocells to paint a landscape, an image within nature. In these works, protocells within ink droplets are placed on a canvas, within a landscape of fragments from nature in order to paint a narrative of their movements. Protocells are molecules made by organic chemistry that display lifelike behaviours, yet they are not ‘alive’. Protocell science attempts to define the minimum chemical base needed to create ‘life’. Once dropped on paper, these cells move, evolve and, strangely, behave as a biological cell would. The intention behind this work is to explore protocells’ fascinating, lifelike behaviours as a means to paint and draw.
Protocells within ink droplets are placed on a canvas, within a landscape of fragments from nature in order to paint a narrative of their movements.
In this piece, pigments containing protocells are programmed to collectively move towards a food source. As I place each protocell colour on the canvas, they move and respond to each other according to their programmed chemistry. A visual narrative is thus created by the traces of the movements. By placing the pigments alongside grains of sand, stones, burnt wood, the composition forms over time. These ‘living drawings’, which live for approximately two to three minutes, depict the birth of a self-guided technique in which organic cells form part of the action. The film portrays the performance while the physical canvas is a fragment that is left over.
By using organic chemistry in these works, I seek to define an augmentation of our relationship with nature. The human species continuously evolves and so does our understanding of nature. This project highlights the opportunity to interact symbiotically with nature, and to explore our own potential to change and to live.