Chemical Reactions under the Microscope

Continuing along the theme of the microscopic, we thought we would post microscopic photographs from the experiments involving chemical reactions. The reaction was created by applying honey and vinegar onto paper which had been coated in cyanotype chemicals, then exposing them under ultraviolet light, shown below.


Marbling / Resin Texture work

I have taken inspiration from organic objects. I have interpreted theses patterns using resin, Indian ink and marbling ink to create formations that are similar to the structures and textures found in minerals and living organisms. These examples were completed in preparation for the group workshop.

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Artists that have been influential in this piece

Sui Park

‘Each of my pieces follow a process of sketching to structuring. Most of the emphasis is on creating forms that encapsulate a theme. Finding a right match between the form and the theme is always difficult. Some works are intuitive, while some are delayed.’

Mainly we were intrigued by her use of organic forms created from disposable, inexpensive objects. As students with no room for funding, the materials we use have to be inexpensive and Park’s work gives us hope that we too can produce something amazing on so limited a budget.

Rob Kesseler

‘The images that I use are very distinctive and not at all like those produced by scientists. The images produced by the microscope are black and white so I add colour to them and use it to create mesmeric pieces that will draw in the viewers in the same way as a bee is drawn to the colours of a flower. I use the computer with the same sensitivity that working in pastels or watercolour would require and I can take up to a week working on one image.’

Using familiar materials and with a background in art forms like ceramics and photography, his artwork is a perfect choice to gather inspiration from. As our animation will, in some abstract form, combine the notion of art with science and natural matter. It is important to research other artists who are producing work in this similar area.

Overall, in this piece, the idea of a singular molecular form – which is so important to our researched artists – is going to be the foundation on which we build our animation. Our relatively inexpensive material with which we will mould our shapes is Play Doh – with our influences coming from some of our previous microscopic images and the plant world found in Kesseler’s works. Play Doh has a very limited colour pallet, with mostly bright primary colours up for grabs, so we as a collective decided to use the ‘complementary’ colours blue and orange and red, colours scientifically proven to influence our moods, perceptions and actions.

Final Piece

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Overall – the morphing of these small molecules into one large object was and is interesting, though due to the images being slightly out of focus on a large screen, projecting this piece will not work. The changing of the solid colours into ones that are different in shape and colour combination are supposed to represent the molecular evolution of the everyday, with the use of Play Doh providing an almost cartoony child friendly version of this rather sinister act. Yet are we not using materials that highlight the changing and degradation of natural forms? Perhaps taking Kesseler’s natural work one step further as the main components of Play Doh are water, flour, salt and oil, which are all natural forms – the main focus of his work – so we have been building, manipulating and changing one natural form for another.

Though our first plan had been to create a few short movies which would have simultaneously played next to one another on a large screen, the practicalities of such a project was too much for our allotted week. Though we may evolve this piece later in the coming months, we have now gained some of the skills in animation to make an even better – more in focus – piece.

What is this?


Whatever your first impressions are, this piece is even more spectacular… Though it may remind you of a form of tree sap or something more sinister, this image is actually a magnified image of a cranberry. The blending of the various forms of reds and oranges is what first catches the eye, whilst also helping this image look alive and deadly instead of a dried berry found in a packed lunch.

Microscope images… Taking it one step further

After the success of quickly looking through the microscope in our university canteen, we decided to take advantage of this technology by making this a first full group activity. To make sure that the images looked professional, we darkened a seminar room that became ideal after a decision was made to project the images onto a wall to subsequently draw them. We set ourselves the tasks of sourcing objects that we individually thought would be interesting to look at. From sponges to dried fruit, we were each given a turn with the microscope and camera; thus a plateaux of different images were created – too many that it became impossible to discern who produced which image.

Drawing onto to the image was provided as a substitute for members who were not using the microscope – as unfortunately we only had one. Here we just wanted to try and find interesting shapes/sections of images that would eventually merge together on different pieces of paper. As we are a group with different talents, it became only reasonable to allow us to express ourselves through different media, for example chalk and pen. Though the final images were slightly haphazard (probably due to the fact we were drawing on a vertical surface), this activity became a nice way to bond and has subsequently become the starting point to some of our later group activities.