Artificial Nature

myrose

artificial
adjective
  1. Made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, especially as a copy of something natural.

nature
noun
  1. The phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.

Pressed Flowers

As soon as I chose Botany as my subject to specialise in, I decided to press flowers. Pressing flowers via the traditional methods takes around 2/3 weeks, below is a collection of flowers and plants pressed over the last couple of months.

My personal favourite is the blue flowers, which is quite unusual as this is the only artificially dyed flower that I’ve pressed. Humans are always striving to make everything bolder, brighter and more aesthetically pleasing. Flowers are being altered by adding scent, changing the colours, removing pollen and creating flowers that grow in the dark! For further reading in to genetically modified plants read; http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/stories/can-genetic-engineering-make-better-flowers

Botanical Installations, Part 2

Lives of Grass sculptures show the effects of transformation of the material as a metaphor of the transformation of the body. Time sculpts the forms, makes them change and then decay. – Mathilde Roussel

In Egyptian Mythology, Osiris is the God of renewal, the one who eternally comes back to life. He is also the personification of the fertile land and the natural cycles: death and rebirth, dryness and fertility. The natural world, ingested as food becomes a component of human being. These anthropomorphic and organic sculptures made of soil and wheat grass seeds strive to show that food, it’s origin, it’s transport, has an impact on us beyond it’s taste. The power inside it affects every organ of our body. Observing nature and being aware of what and how we eat might make us more sensitive to food cycles in the world – of abundance, of famine – and allows us to be physically, intellectually and spiritually connected to a global reality.

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Eye Heart Spleen, is a delicate series of sculpted plants as part of a project by artist Camila Carlow. The photographic project is comprised of 13 images representing human organs constructed from plants and flowers. From Carlow’s statement about the project:

The most fascinating and intricate of biological structures, yet we rarely pay heed to the organs inside our body. Regardless of whether we fill ourselves with toxins or nourishing food, whether we exercise or not—our organs sustain us, working away effortlessly and unnoticed.

In a similar way, plants flourishing in the urban environment are a testament to nature’s indifference to our goings on. They grow out of the sides of buildings, in brick walls and between the cracks in concrete, despite of the traffic and pollution.

Camila Carlow is a Guatemalan-born artist based in Bristol, England, and she works in a range of mediums from photography and painting as well as cinematography.

https://canimate.wordpress.com/

Botanical Installations, Part 1

I am a huge fan of clever installations, and for that reason I can see my exhibition piece being of that nature. With that in mind I’ve researched into already existing installations…

Gregory Euclide is an artist and teacher living in the Minnesota River Valley. He challenges a traditional painting by breaking the boundaries of the picture frame and extending the landscape out in to an installation. He uses materials found from nature to create the installation pieces, ‘the work consists of several dioramas that are built from materials that were collected on walks as well as several paper casts from boulders in central park.’ (euclide, 2011)

The depiction of land has often been used as a means of celebrating or critiquing culture. The use of pastoral views, banal architecture and everyday trash problematize the traditional definitions of a natural landscape. Through the process of transforming and miniaturizing materials found in the land, objects, in their new context, are no longer discernible as natural or man-made. The juxtaposition of representational modes and materials create a hybrid space where the romanticized and actual intermingle. Contrasts between the flat, painted vistas and artifacts from the land expose the illusion of representation and subsequently confuse the pictorial space, calling into question the authenticity of the objects. The forms fracture the pictorial space, at times, inhabiting the frames, robbing them of their ability to define a single view and inviting a phenomenological exploration by the viewer.

 

held-within-what-hung-open-and-made-to-lie-without-escape-15aimg_5691– http://www.gregoryeuclide.com/

Living Room is a living art installation designed by Hannah Chalew. The artist created living works of art using chickenwire, a variety of used furniture frames, soil and living plants. Some of the plants she weaved together were, Ipomoea alba, Ficus pumila, the fragrant Trachelospermum jasminoides and various weeds. The art work was displayed in 2013 at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans. Below is the installation along with the concept drawing for the Living Room installation.

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http://www.hannahchalew.com/

 

The Floating Flower Garden is an immersive, interactive installation of blossoming vegetation. Visitors enter a room filled with floating flowers. But as you approach them the flowers rise into the air, creating an air bubble within the dense forest. Multiple visitors can move through the installation at once as the flowers move away from them and surround them. “In this interactive floating flower garden viewers are immersed in flowers, and become completely one with the garden itself.” Floating Flower Garden is the latest installation by TeamLab, a Japanese art collective of “ultra-technologists” lead by Toshiyuki Inoko.

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https://www.team-lab.net/

Nature As Designer

‘So many books have been published emphasising the beautiful world of flowers and plants, yet fruits are generally neglected or totally ignored.’ (Bager, 1971)

Nature as designer is an insightful book written by Bertel Bager, it looks at plants for their beauty and complexity. The book is poetically written and contains beautiful imagery, as can be seen below.

Bager (1971), mentions some interesting points regarding plants such as the Thorn Apple, that contains the poisonous substance which has long been used in the treatment for asthma. And the Dandelion that is incredibly vital, if the tiniest piece of root is left in the ground, a new plant will soon appear. The dandelion is the most despised weed.

 

 

References

Bager. B., 1971, Nature as Designer, A Botanical Art Study, New Impression Edition, Frederick Warne and Co.

 

A hive of activity

A standard Sunday evening, when dad grabs the remote control after waking up and demands that Countryfile is on TV. Usually this annoys me to no end, but this episode could have been written for my project!

Helen Skelton visited the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where they are creating a wonderful piece of SciArt. 50 locals have come together to cross stitch every flower known to be harvested by the gardens bees.

The group has also been illustrating the results of our honey bee research by creating hexagons for each plant foraged on, which we identify from the DNA in the honey. Continuing the theme, pollinator groups is the plan for ongoing projects; with hoverflies, solitary bees, bumblebees and butterflies all on the agenda.

 

References

BBC, 2017, Countryfile Carmarthenshire, Online Video, 15 January 2017. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08bcln2/countryfile-carmarthenshire. (Accessed: 16 January 2017).

Jones. L., 2016, The Stitching Botanicals’ Secret Garden, Online, Available at: https://botanicgarden.wales/post/2016/09/the-stitching-botanicals-secret-garden/. (Accessed 16 January 2017).

Technical Drawings

‘Plants lose many morphological features when pressed i.e colour, hairiness,  3D…’ (Bell, 2008)

Notes
Morphology – the branch of biology dealing with the form and structure of organisms
Venation – patterns of venation are often distinctive
Root Systems – there are two basic types
Adventitious – ‘arriving from outside’
Scars – scars indicate the former position of structures that have fallen off or development in response to injury

 

References

Bell, A., 2008, Plant Form: An Illustrated Guide to Flowering Plant Morphology, New Edition, Timber Press.

Botanical Illustration

As part of my botany research, I have recently just read the book The Art of Botanical Illustration by Wilfrid Bluntthis book was insightful in learning about the processes artists and scientists have gone through to document nature. The book starts of with a lovely quote by Ruskin, ‘If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world’

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When a leaf is more than just a leaf: John Ruskin’s watercolour Withered Oak Leaves 1879

‘Ruskin often made detailed studies of plants and felt that it was more instructive and revealing to start with the intricate details before tackling the whole. As he put it: ‘We cannot learn to paint leaves by painting trees full; nor grass by painting fields full. Learning to paint one leaf rightly is better than constructing a whole forest of leaf definitions.’’ (Smith, 2011) Ruskin loved flowers whole heartedly and looked at flowers with the eye of an artist.

The book precedes to talk about how ‘…the earliest flower drawings were for the most part made to assist the searcher after medicinal herbs.’ (Blunt, 1993) Which is a purely scientific reason, the artist had to observe the plants with much greater detail. Making sure the drawings were informative enough for the searcher. Not all artists who have chosen botany as a subject, go to such depth and actually a lot of artists manipulate what they see to create a much more aesthetic drawing. Although any ‘great botanical artist must have a passion for flowers.’ (Blunt, 1993)

‘Floriculture, rather than scientific botany controlled the destinies of flower painting and directed it to new channels.’ (Blunt, 1993) Floriculture is an international, multi-billion dollar industry that includes the production of bedding and garden plants, foliage plants, potted flowering plants, cut flowers, cut cultivated greens, and floriculture materials. When researching flowers, I have found it difficult to find unusual plants and instead have only had the chance to work with the every day plants and flowers. This has limited my research and practice significantly.

The book also gave me a comprehensive list of all the artists that have made an impact in botanical illustration. This list mentioned Redoute, who Blunt believed to be ‘the most celebrated flower painter of his day, the most popular indeed of the whole history of botanical art.’ You can see some of Redoute’s beautiful drawings below.

 

 

References

Blunt, W., 1993, The Art of Botanical Illustration, Revised & enlarged Edition, Antique Collectors Club.

Naeve, L., 2016, Floriculture | Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, OnlineAvailable at: http://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/specialty-crops/floriculture/. (Accessed 15 January 2017)

Smith, A., 2011, John Ruskin and the beauty of leaves, Online, Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/john-ruskin-and-beauty-leaves. (Accessed 15 January 2017).

Photograms

 

A photogram is a photographic print made by laying objects on to photographic paper and exposing it to light.

The two prints above are two prints I produced this month (Jan 2016), this was my first experience of photographic paper and therefore there are some errors which I can correct for my next session. Like the rectangle situated directed in the centre of the two pieces, this was caused by the plastic I laid on top of the sheets to keep the objects in place. Also theres some blurring on the prints, this could be due to low exposure to the sun – it is winter! Or could be an error when placing the objects on the paper. I plan to experiment once the weathers less gloomy.

I started experimenting with photographic paper after a conversation in a SciArt meeting, when another student showed me the work of Anna Atkins. Atkins is a “British botanist whose use of cyanotypes – or ‘sunprints‘ – of plants and algae in botanical studies paved the way for the use of photography in scientific publishing.” (Gibbs, 2015) Some of her work can be seen below.

 

References

Gibbs, J. (2015) Anna Atkins: This is why British scientist who produced first photographic book has been given a Google Doodle. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/anna-atkins-google-doodle-celebrates-216th-birthday-of-botanist-who-produced-first-photographic-book-10109935.html (Accessed: 4 January 2017).

Daily Inspo | Green 3D Printers

The printer produces living prints, printing customised objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia. The project’s goal is to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.
The “ink” in the machine is a combination of soil, seeds, and water which can be designed to print in any shape or letter. After drying, the muddy mixture holds its form and begins to sprout grass from the organic material.