Thank goodness Constance Jacobson is fascinated by the super freaky, super colossal world of microbes. Let’s see how Constance’s scientific interest in the world of micro-organisms influences the creation of her spectacular monster drawings and prints. Just remember, if you enjoy living, microbes are your friends!
The idea for this series originated when I saw a 19th-century satirical etching by William Heath called Monster Soup Commonly Called Thames Water a few years ago in London. The print shows a woman with a disgusted look on her face dropping her teacup as she views the microscopic contents of that river’s sewage-infested waters. I wanted to produce a series of “monsters,” although, as most micro-organisms are harmless to us, so too are my “monsters.”
Lately I have been reading about the research being done on the human microbiome – protective communities of micro-organisms, on and within our bodies, that outnumber our body cells by more than ten to one. We have co-evolved with these ancient microbes and they are essential for our survival – by providing life-sustaining functions such as digesting and absorbing food, fighting infection and making our immune systems work.
This area of study gives new meaning to the term human ecology, with the ecological vision turning inward, to microbial life within us (and on us), as well as outward to the larger natural world that surrounds us. These new findings also add a peculiar twist to our notions of personal identity if 90% of the cells in our bodies are not “us.”
These drawings were created with a glue gun on clear mylar, scanned with a transparency scanner, and printed using a pigment-based printer. Over the last ten years I have been working on and off with scanning ordinary translucent materials to form collages of microbial worlds on the scanning bed, and this group of images is an extension of that work.
Constance’s work will be on display in the exhibition Micromorphic at the Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in Woodstock, NY Gallery, May 4-June 17, 2012. Opening reception: May 5, 4:00 – 6:00 pm. Gallery Hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 – 6:00 pm.
Image credit: All images courtesy Constance Jacobson.