ELAINE WHITTAKER Untitled

ELAINE WHITTAKER
Untitled

ELAINE WHITTAKER
(in)trepid cultures

OCTOBER 6 - 30
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday October 9th, 2–5pm

 

That Beauty that hath terror in it.
-William Wordsworth

It is possible to agree with the radical cultural critic Mike Davis that panic and an ecology of fear increasingly defines modern society. The cultural and social worlds we inhabit are being transformed in unexpected, and often, uncontrollable ways. Microbes the ones that cross over from insects or animals or different ecologies, that artfully become pathogenic, causing illness, or even death, escalating fear and terror.

Located in the precarious intersection between art and science, (in)trepid cultures is an installation
that considers biology as contemporary art practice, concentrating on the paradoxical beauty of
microorganisms and the daily – and often societal – fear they generate.

To explore the boundaries between art and science, I have cultured Halobacterium sp. NRC-1, an
ancient bacterium that lives in a high salt environment (such as the Dead Sea and Great Salt Lake).
Culturing these living microorganisms in petri dishes involved setting up a laboratory in my studio.
With a microscope and digital camera, I photographed the growth of these brightly coloured colonies.
Their subtle abstractions and natural beauty is apparent, and even though their bacterial colonies are
non-pathogenic, they inevitably provoke trepidation.

The installation contains four components: a waterfall-like screen consisting of over 1500 petri dishes
containing grown salt crystals and digital images of halobacteria; enlarged digital prints based on
microscopic photography; petri dish drawings with live halobacteria in various stages of growth
and desiccation; and a sound piece, (ir)rational, created by Larry Sulky, that overlays regimented,
mathematically precise tonal intervals atop random biological chitterings.

Situated in the new realms of bioart, (in)trepid cultures is the first in a series of installations that is
based on the salt-loving and salt-thriving halobacteria, and our ubiquitous fear of microb

----

Click here for a review on BlogTO and here for an interview with the artist on ArtSyc. This show was also listed as a NOW must see show.

also listed as a NOW must see show.



oac logo gif.gif