Credit: Christine E. Farrar, Zac H. Forsman, Ruth D. Gates , Jo-Ann C. Leong, and Robert J. Toonen, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, Manoa.
The behaviour of corals is as fascinating as their forms and the extent of their diversity. In the video below Christine Farrar explains the symbiotic relationship between coral polyps and the algae which lives upon it, sustains it and provides its astonishing fluorescent colours.
I am currently involved in a collaborative project with Dr Philippe Laissue, a research scientist at Essex University. His work involves cellular bio-imaging which means that he gets to see and photograph utterly amazing micro-images of corals.
In Philippe’s TED x talk he explains the drive behind his development of low-light microscopes to view live corals – so they can be viewed for longer periods without damage.
I am developing a collaborative project at UCS Suffolk with the Fine Art and English Departments. Students and staff will be invited to submit art works and literature in response to images of coral under the microscope and its behaviour. I would like to exhibit the works at UCS and Essex University.
I also hope to form a collaborative group made-up of people who are interested in Art and Science and informing and developing their work overtime.
Some ideas for developing the project to date:
Abstract structures made with Aerogel, displayed underwater in tanks (?), illuminated by blue light, darkened room:
Film of coral reef or interviews projected onto Aerogel structures (?):
A1 photographs of micro-images of corals:
Abstract paintings and drawings – explore use of resin and Aerogel;
Films of coral environments;
Videos of interviews with scientist/s and artist/s; and
Exhibition of coral specimens.
Aerogel: I first saw and heard about Aerogel a few years ago when researching Liliane Lijn. Lijn worked on a project with NASA who developed Aerogel in 2008. I was delighted to find that it is now available to the public (see www.aerogel.org). It has a fabulous otherworldly quality and is water repellent.
Lijn, Liliane, Heavenly Fragments, 2008, Aerogel, 295cm x 65cm x 65cm
Details of Lijn’s installation: Aerogel Fragments of cone and disc on grey mirror in Perspex case, perlescent metalliccoated square column housing dvd player, projector
Video: Visions of the East, 50’ looped dvd
What you are seeing in the image below is polyp tissue showing up as green around the mouth and base of the tentacles and zooxanthellae showing as red fluorescence from chlorophyll in the tissue between polyps.
Credit: James Nicholson, NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Fort Johnson Marine Lab, Charleston, South Carolina.
Honorable mention: Underwater image of live coral Montastraea annularis.
The link below will take you to an amazing coral project in Miami where rather than examining coral under threat the team is looking at hybrid corals which are adapting to withstand modern day environmental threats.
And to share the team’s vision for corals take a few minutes to watch their inspiring video: Coral City.
If you are reading this and feel inspired to join the CORAL project, please do get in touch!
I will share the drawings and paintings I am working on in response to coral in my next blog post.