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References and Notes 1. For more discussion of video works by the SKB group, see Bulat Galeyev,"The First Experiments of SKB 'Prometei' in Video Art," Leonardo, 27, No.5, 399-402 (1994). 2. We acknowledge the German broadcasting channel WDR for providing us with footage of the episode. Manuscript received 17 October 1996. "LANDSCAPES" FROM SULFANILAMIDE: AN ARTIST ExPERIMENTS WITH MICROCRYSTALS TO REvEAL FRACTAL ORDER Gwyneth Thurgood, Serengeti, Pilgrims ' Way,Harrietsham, Maidstone, Kent ME17 IBT, United Kingdom. Acceptedfor publication Uy RogerF. Malina. Fig. 3. Gwyneth Thurgood, Glacier,limited edition etching, 20 x 25 em, 1996. Fig. 4. Gwyneth Thurgood, Headland, limited edition etching, 12 x 19 em, 1996. I use microscopic images as inspiration for painting, etching and drawing. I find that using a monocular polarizing microscope to conduct experiments with crystals heightens my artistic creativity. Making Crystal Microscope Slides As the first step in creating crystal microscope slides, I take minute quantities of sulfanilamide crystals on a spatula and place,them in the center of a microscope slide. I then squeeze small droplets of a solvent, such as water or acetone, from a pipette onto the tiny crystals, mixing and agitating the combination. This process causes a solution to form, which then recrystallizes at varying speeds, depending on conditions such as ambient temperature and humidity. I use different approaches during slide preparation, and these often lead to unexpected results. In one approach , when the warm aqueous solution that I have created cools, crystals begin to form. I then observe the exciting evolution of "landscapes" and "floral" patterns through the microscope , as molecules attain their order. I sometimes heat the solution on the slide using a spirit burner. Other times, Iplace the slides in a metal tray on top of a warm radiator or near a wood-burning stove, allowing the mixture slowly to evaporate and crystallize from its liquid state. When I use acetone with sulfanilamide, the acetone is absorbed instantaneously, forming floral and butterfly shapes. When I mix another type ~f solvent with sulfanilamide and sodium dichromate, beautiful "ferns" and "trees" appear. The formations are reversible: by adding more solvent, the liquid state returns and the mixture gradually reforms into different patterns. Artistic Transformations I find that one of the greatest difficulties in this process is obtaining an image that is large enough to use as reference for an artwork. Most often I make freehand drawings by looking through the microscope. Since this process was tiring with a monocular instrument, I purchased an eyepiece camera that is a beam-splitter and attaches to the microscope's eyepiece [1], This device allows me to view the specimen straighton , as well as through both eyes. A more straightforward way to obtain a suitable reference image is to take photomicrographs by coupling a singlelens reflex camera to the eyepiece of the microscope [2], I then can trace the photomicrographs. Artists' Statements 143 In Glacier (Fig. 3), I drew the scale and proportion of the "landscape" by visually comparing size, as I would if sketching the visible world. I assessed which "rocks" lined up vertically and horizontally, which emphasized the foreground, which area predominated the height and which were the key directionallines of the composition. For example, the suggestion offlow lines in the right foreground of the picture carries the eye inward and up to the peaks. I chose to etch Glacierand Headland (Fig. 4). This medium seemed perfect to capture the linear qualities of the scenes. I prepared the zinc plates by rolling them with a layer of hard wax which is smoked on. I traced the drawings onto the plates using transfer paper and then etched the images into the metal using a solution of 1 part nitric acid to 9 parts water. Headland shows a "craggy projection," bordered by a "lake" and flanked by "trees." It appears to be a land waiting to be explored on foot. I use crossed polars to observe the formations, which I usually magnify 100 times. The fantastically vivid colors are wonderful for interpretation in pastels. In this way,I use the photomicrographs as reference material for the images. Self-Similar Natural Fractal Patterns The term "fractal" was coined by Benoit Mandelbrot from...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 143-144
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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