The Abstract Microecologies project was developed during a 4 month residency in the Department of Archaeology and Natural History at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
The project is essentially an automated, algorithmic system for creating collages of images obtained through high resolution digital microscopy. Conversations with scientists, laboratory work, field trips and self-directed research resulted in some custom artistic software and an initial body of work. The ability of an algorithmic collage to assemble contrasting and diverse images and to produce an overarching narrative was useful in the portrayal of natural and cultural ecologies.
Through photographs taken using various camera-equipped microscopes from a laboratory in the Department of Archaeology and Natural History I created the visual source material for 2 pieces of software that I wrote during the residency period. These images were edited to isolate particular micro-organisms or fossils, most of which were pollen, and then fed into my customs programs and subsequently used to create large-scale abstract prints. The prints were created by organising the smaller image fragments using specific rules. A non-linear, never-ending computer animation of pollen and other microscopic fossils was also created.
The Abstract Microecologies project involved studying generative processes in the arts and the sciences, where generative refers to systems which generate ecologies of interrelated, distributed elements. Generative processes seem to be particularly good at creating morphologies and narratives from large quantities of data and this proved to be a useful tool to navigate the reference collections in the lab I worked in.
MaterialsZeiss digital microscope, pollen, diatoms, custom software