Uploaded on Nov 26, 2009
A sequence of radial spreads inspired by Darwin's words
This video, one of five prizewinners, was a response to a challenge set in 2009 by New Scientist magazine to illustrate the final sentence from Darwin's 'Origin of Species' with a work of art. I chose to illustrate part of the sentence, namely '...from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful ...'
I wanted to show how the ink in water patterns which I create through surface tension driven flow can all start in a simple way (a circle of paint and ink on the water's surface) and then develop into complex, unique forms as they begin to move. These forms show great diversity because of physical and chemical variations in their makeup, and in the conditions of their evolution as they move outwards. Although the 'inkplosions', as I call them, all share a bisymmetrical form, each one is unique, in the same way that all living organisms display unique features.
As well as reminding us of living organisms, the evolving forms also have elements in common with macroscopic phenomena, such as exploding supernovae or shifting nebulae. This is not just a superficial resemblance, but one which echoes the similarity of the processes involved - the common element being matter moving outward at great speeds, creating increasingly complex patterning as it does so. Different inks highlight different aspects of these forms, and the use of bubbles provides thin outflows which form their own unique type of patterning (I call these 'bubblespreads').
Links between small-scale and large-scale phenomena are one of my main concerns as an artist, and I encourage my viewers to seek connections between the two. There is a degree of ambiguity in these video images, and an imaginative contribution from the viewer supplies the final creative link. I wanted people to 'get the message' of the video through their own understanding, rather than by any statement on my part, and so text is kept to a minimum (I just have Darwin's quote at the beginning and at the end). I chose ambient music that would enhance the mood of the images, and allow people's imagination to engage.
Video effects are also kept to a minimum, as I felt they would detract from the main point of the video. I did, however, make a lot of use of slow motion, so that the viewer could experience the outward movement and subsequent patterning more fully, and relax into the experience.
I have been working with ink in water for the past five years, and my methods, particularly with surface tension work, have been considered to be innovative. My work has been written up in several refereed journals, including 'Leonardo'. A full list of publications is at my website (address given below).
I see my role as an artist as a catalyst for nature; my philosophy is that nature is the best artist. I aim to try and show the beauty of nature to as many people as possible.
More of my work can be seen at YouTube, and at my website:
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