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Micro-Poétique

Wednesday 26 April 2017, by Gilles Carpentier

In June 2016 I was contacted by the artist Iglika Christova. She had a fascination with the theme of water and was looking for some microscopic observations with the intuition that this intime vision could reveal some new inspirational perception of this element.

I was a little perplexed about this, since water as pure element is transparent (except eventual bubbles and interference motifs), so there is nothing to see with optical microscopy at room temperature. Then, I suggested her to collect some water in a lake and to have a look of the living and mineral content of this water, as none pure element, but as living medium. Afterwards, we took a date to try to observe something together. She came at the meeting point with a plastic bottle containing some water she sampled from the Vincennes lake, a little bit roiling, with some rare debris. What a pleasant surprise for us to see a complex life with an unexpected red fluorescence. Microalgae, full of chlorophylle at this time of year, exhibited a strong red fluorescence, as well as some other protists, certainly from the euglena family. Some great chains of cyanobacteria and a multitude of microorganism were « playing » in the drop of water we looked in a simple petri dish. Acquired images, once sublimed by the imagination and the talent of Iglika, resulted in a series of works, drawings and engraving on glass some of which immersed in water. This work lead to a first exhibition in the beginning of 2017, more pictures on the Iglika website.

The water was then enriched with leafs of fresh herb, in three fractions of the initial sample after partial sedimentation, so simulating conditions of seasonal lake flooding. Two of this mediums stored in vials and exposed to natural light, transformed in remarkable different new ecosystems developed for 9 months. Some protozoans and small metazoans developed as well as full of other protists. Paramecia and several rotifer species have thus prospered thanks to an equilibrium between metazoans and bacteria. These new observations inspired new drawing which enriched the H2O collection. This collection will be exposed at Espace Jour et Nuit Culture from the 2 - 6 may 2017, 9 place Saint Michel  75006 Paris

logoij ImageJ (http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/) is a public domain Java image processing program inspired by NIH Image for the Macintosh. It runs, either as an online applet or as a downloadable application, on any computer with a Java 1.1 or later virtual machine. Downloadable distributions are available for Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X and Linux. The author, Wayne Rasband (wayne@codon.nih.gov), is at the Research Services Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Gilles Carpentier, Faculte des Sciences et Technologie,
Universite Paris Est Creteil Val-de-Marne, France.

Special thanks to Alessandra Albano for the English correction of these sites.
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