algae

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Design

Algae Sequins Embellish a Petroleum-Free Dress Designed by Phillip Lim and Charlotte McCurdy

February 25, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © One x One, shared with permission

“Sequins are synonymous with plastic waste,” says renowned designer Phillip Lim about an endeavor to combat the egregious amount of pollution generated each year by the fashion industry. He’s part of the 2020 cohort for One X One—a Slow Factory Foundation initiative that matches scientists and designers with an eye toward regenerative technologies, equitable production, and circular economy models—in which he collaborated with Charlotte McCurdy, a researcher who’s undertaken a variety of sustainable-fashion projects. Together, they created a luxe A-line dress covered in algae sequins that’s free from petroleum and other synthetic materials.

In their partnership, the duo drew on McCurdy’s process of pulling carbon from the atmospheric reservoir and binding the organic substance together with heat, a method she used previously to create a water-resistant raincoat made from marine micro-algae. The bioplastic then is poured into custom molds and emerges in sheets that the pair cut into long, arced sequins. Because the algae-derived substance wasn’t suitable for the dress form, Lim and McCurdy sourced a mesh base from PYRATEX, a Madrid-based brand specializing in a seaweed-and-bamboo fiber called SeaCell that’s both an antiperspirant and thermoregulating.

 

Algae sequins in sheets

Speckled near the neckline with mother of pearl, the resulting dress is covered in the translucent green fringe, a color McCurdy derived organically from minerals. “The majority of our modern dyes and pigments are petrochemical in origin,” she told Dezeen. “But we had a huge, rich vocabulary of color before the Industrial Revolution that was not taking fossil fuel out of the ground, so I looked into traditional approaches to producing oil paints, which involved mineral pigments.”

Lim and McCurdy’s design isn’t for sale commercially but rather serves as a prototype for garment production in the future. For similar initiatives, check out the two other projects generated by the 2020 cohort, which include leather sneakers grown from bacteria and an apprenticeship in sustainable fashion for women from low-income and immigrant communities, on One X One’s site.

 

Sheets of the algae-based substance in molds

 

 



Art

Translucent Sculptures of Segmented Glass by Artist Jiyong Lee Evoke Single-Celled Organisms

September 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Green Cosmarium Segmentation” (2018), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 7 1/4 × 10 × 7 1/4 inches. All images © Jiyong Lee, shared with permission

Fascinated by the organisms found in the sea and bodies of freshwater, artist Jiyong Lee (previously) sculpts semi-transparent artworks that evoke the various forms of algae and other microscopic creatures. The segmented pieces, which are composed of smooth, matte glass, create both organic and geometric shapes. Part of an ongoing Segmentation Series, the composite works consider the evolution of a single cell, which Lee expands on:

I work with glass that has transparency and translucency, two qualities that serve as perfect metaphors for what is known and unknown about life science. The segmented, geometrical forms of my work represent cells, embryos, biological and molecular structures—each symbolizing the building blocks of life as well as the starting point of life.

Lee is based in Carbondale, Illinois, where he teaches at Southern Illinois University, and many of the pieces shown here will be part of a group show at Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis from September 12 to October 17, 2020. The artist also was chosen as one of 30 artists for the Loewe Foundation’s Craft Prize, which will bring him to Paris for an exhibition in the spring of 2021. Until then, explore more of Lee’s biology-informed sculptures on Artsy.

 

“Mitosis” (2010), cut, color (white) laminated, carved glass, 8.6 x 13 x 14 inches

“Diatom segmentation” (2019), cut, color laminated, carved, hot formed glass, 7 x 10 x 7 inches

“Black and White Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 8 × 12 × 8 inches

Left: “Gray Diatom Segmentation” (2018), cut, color laminated, carved glass, 5 1/4 × 12 1/2 inches. Right: “Yellow Orange Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 7 1/2 x 10 x 8 1/2 inches

“Green Yellow Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 5 3/4 × 12 × 12 inches

“White Green Diatom Segmentation” (2020), hot sculpted, cut, color laminated, carved, glass, 8 1/2 × 10 × 8 1/2 inches

 

 



Design

A "Living" Chandelier Filled with Algae by Julian Melchiorri

September 26, 2017

Christopher Jobson

ALl photos © Mike Chino.

London-based designer and engineer Julian Melchiorri has designed an elegant new lighting solution that is part chandelier and part living organism. Titled Exhale, the piece is comprised of 70 glass petals of varying shape that contain a solution of green algae sustained by daylight, LEDs, and a drip-feed of nutrients. The lighting design won the 2017 Emerging Talent Medal at the London Design Festival and was on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can learn more over on Inhabitat.

 

 



Art Photography Science

Contemporary Artistic Arrangements of Microscopic Diatoms by Klaus Kemp

September 17, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Ever since exploring slides of arranged diatoms earlier this year from the California Academy of Sciences, I was left with one small question: how? Diatoms are tiny single-cell algae encased in jewel-like shells that are among the smallest organisms on Earth of which there are an estimated 100,000 extant species. How does one go about finding, capturing, cleaning, organizing, and arranging these artistic displays that are so small they are measured in microns?

One such person who asked these questions was Klaus Kemp who became fascinated by some of the earliest diatom arrangements dating back to the Victorian era. Kemp has since dedicated his life to the study and perfection of modern day diatom arrangements, and his works are among the most complex being made today. Filmmaker Matthew Killip recently sat down with Kemp and learned more about his process in this short film called the Diatomist.

 

 



Art Photography Science

Artistic Arrangements of Microscopic Algae Viewed Through a Microscope

January 29, 2014

Christopher Jobson

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Photograph of diatoms collected in Russia and arranged on a microscope slide in 1952 by A.L. Brigger.

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Photograph of fossil diatoms collected in Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California, and arranged on a microscope slide in 1968 by A.L. Brigger.

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Black and white photograph of fossil radiolaria arranged on a slide by R.F. Behan. The slide label reads “Prize Medal Paris 1867 Polycystina; Springfield, Barbados.” The arrangement is approximately 3 millimeters in diameter.

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Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.

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Photograph of diatoms arranged on a microscope slide by W.M. Grant.

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Photograph of diatoms arranged in October 1974 on a microscope slide by R.I. Firth. The slide label reads “Selected species from Californian fossil marine localities. To Mrs. G Dallas Hanna with compliments.”

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Photograph of Arachnoidiscus diatoms collected in the Bolinas Lagoon in Marin County, California and arranged on a microscope slide by R.F. Behan.

In a fascinating blend of art and science the California Academy of Sciences possesses a rare collection of microscopic diatom arrangements. Diatoms are a major group of algae that are among the smallest organisms on Earth, of which nearly 100,000 different species are estimated to exist. While there are numerous examples of diatoms that have been photographed for scientific study, these particular scientists hobbyists seem to have gone a different direction, instead turning these tiny unicellular lifeforms into mandala-like artworks. The tiny designs are all the more amazing when you consider most of them would fit on the head of a nail. You can see more examples right here. Photos by Sara Mansfield. (via Synaptic Stimuli)

Update: The California Academy of Sciences clarifies that these arrangements, despite being produced with scientific tools, are purely aesthetic, and were produced by hobbyists, not scientists.