What’s going on, Cladonia Rangiferina? [artistic research and exhibition / 2019]
Cladonia Rangiferina, more commonly known as Reindeer Lichen is a very interesting species of lichen. I spent about seven months researching and artistically engaging with the lichen Cladonia Rangiferina. There was a collaborative research phase - with students from Parsons University, New York - that lasted about three months and was followed by individual artistic production. The research months consisted of discussions, reading, watching and thinking about ecology, the role of artists, ideas about control, and ecological relationships inhabited by humans and non-humans. An increasing fascination with glass jars and through some gardening tutorials, I learned how to make tiny terrariums. Aiming to keep the lichen alive, I made 7 experimental terrariums to test the ideal conditions suited for their survival. Terrariums usually consist of some gravel, a layer of activated carbon and some form of soil/substrate. After much adjusting of different factors like air, water and microbes, an almost ideal solution was to just leave the terrariums out in the snow, which preserved the lichen perfectly.
SEM is a type of electron microscope that produces images of a sample by scanning the surface with a focused beam of electrons. The electrons interact with the atoms in the sample, creating signals that describe the topography and create the image down to the resolution of a single nanometer.
These layers assimilate, one on top of the other, in an attempt to reveal some kind of ‘hidden reality’. What if we could literally see into the cellular structures of the lichen? The artefact presented is the current manifestation of these layers. Aesthetically tying back to some of my initial ideological inquiries about shifting perspectives and control, the work offers a contrast between an obsessive need for unattainable perfection and the wilderness that is bound to reign.
Excerpt from the exhibition catalogue produced and designed by Marjolein van der Loo:
Images by Sheung Yiu :