An unNatural History
Work created for SOFA 2009 represented by Urban Glass Brooklyn Sterling silver, glass
The inspiration for this body of work is my fascination with the artistic representation of natural history, the creation of fictitious places in literature and my recent interest in Cordyceps fungus – in particular, Cordyceps Unilateralis, a species of entomopathogenic fungus that infects and alters the behaviour of ants in order to ensure the widespread distribution of its spores. It is from the Cordyceps that I most strongly draw the physical inspiration for my work at present. If we can say that the world of science is synonymous with truth and the world of art with that of fiction, I want to tread a middle ground that is unusual and seemingly beyond belief, yet also familiar. Borrowing from the work of German biologist and naturalist Ernst Haeckel, I want to create a body of work that is a documentation of something newly discovered; but, whereas it is claimed that some of Haeckel\'s embryo drawings of 1874 were fabricated, for example, I am starting in the opposite direction, from a conjecture of the imagination grounded with elements that - although bizarre - are quite real, to try to give it verisimilitude. Haeckel’s embryo drawings, in spite of the fact that they overemphasized similarities between embryos of related species, nonetheless found their way into many biology textbooks, and into popular knowledge. I have adapted and created my own peculiar genus of entomopathogenic fungus with the hope that it inspires us to wonder not what imagination or motivation created them but simply, where such things can be found. The specimens in this collection are represented as maquettes; as a reader of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra and John Uri Lloyd’s Etidorpha, I would want to believe that the imagined place from which these specimens originate would also allow them to thrive and grow to fantastic size. If the illusion is complete, please think of them as the younger of the species, provided not merely to delight the curious but to educate and inform in the manner of an exhibit in a natural history museum. On a final note, all of these specimens share the common feature of being based on a “ring” form, something to be worn on the hand, which is drawn from the idea of hand gestures. Although hand gestures are often regarded as mimed versions of spoken communication, they can imitate, amplify, substitute, and even contradict speech. Implied hand gesture here reveals the space and time dimension of a narrative within the pieces and their imagined origin.