Artist Elinor Mossop
Many wonder how science and art can intersect, but I fail to see how they cannot. Scientific instruments such as the scanning electron microscope (SEM) allow the artist to analyze every crack, edge, and texture of an object at nanometer-scales. By adding enticing colors or deleting undesirable features, artists can re-interpret these objects to convey meaning through aesthetics. In this exhibition, I have juxtaposed objects that would never physically be seen together at the same scale—testate amoebae and shipwrecks—to make the microscopic more tangible.
For this project, we collected sediment samples from the 1758 sunken bateau fleet site at Lake George, New York. I learned how to identify testate amoebae living in these sediments and prepared samples of the amoebae for use with different microscopes. I employed nano-lithography, a high-tech offspring of the artist’s printmaking methods, to transform shipwreck drawings into growth surfaces for the amoebae to interact with. I then enlarged their interactions to our scale so that we may be voyeurs to their way of life.
The titles for the resulting artwork are based on “A Ballad, Concerning the Fight between the English and French at Lake George”, published in Boston in 1755, author unknown. The odd capitalizations in the titles are as they were in the original ballad and when read together the titles reveal some of the ambiance of the Battle of Lake George.
Incorporating “The Sunken Fleet of 1758” of Lake George, the testate amoebae’s home, added a temporal dimension to the project. The eeriness of these 250-year-old abandoned vessels on the bottom of the lake is reminiscent of the desolate amoeba landscapes revealed by the SEM. The juxtaposition of the enlarged amoeba tests with the sunken shipwrecks in a shared underwater environment gives us an insight into the mystery of existence at any scale.