A living colorfield sculpture by Jenifer Wightman.
2012. 15”x15”x2”. Mud and water from the Gowanus Canal, endogenous bacteria, eggs, chalk, Newspaper, enclosed inside a glass, steel and silicone vessel.
Gowanus Canal is part of larger project called "Portraits of NYC". A steel and glass vessel frames mud and water samples taken from the Gowanus Canal and photographed from August to December 2012. Endogenous bacteria photosynthesize pigments to create a transforming colorfield as defined by the physical and chemical conditions of the water:mud composite. The living organisms manufacturing the pigments are simultaneously the subject and substance of the ‘painterly’ objectification – both object and medium, both a work of art itself and a working of autopoiesis. The landscape is literal. Construction and deconstruction of molecular building blocks produce an ongoing dis/integration of form. Therefore there is not one colorfield, but a series of real time/space negotiations performed by bacteria within a frame of finite natural resources. Color acts as indicator of the industry of microfauna cleaning our city. This piece was fabricated for a residency hosted by LMCC on Governor's Island. Five frames were built for each of the following polluted waterways: Hudson (PCBs), East River (sewage outflows), Newtown Creek (oil spill), Dead Horse Bay (exposed landfill) and Gowanus Canal (everything?). Thanks to Sarah Christman for turning my images into this Timelapse. See also a snippet of her capture of this project on Vimeo.