Monday, January 25, 2010

Life Fixture

This is something I just finished. It will be shown at FE gallery, for a show called H2O @ FE, opening Friday January 29 from 7 to 9pm.

"Life Fixture" is a terrarium inside a test tube inside an aquarium inside a light bulb in a light fixture.

If you have had any previous encounter with my work, you probably know that I am inspired and fascinated by nature. Also, you might know that I obsess over creating and observing miniature worlds, and worlds within worlds. The magnification of these worlds through viewing windows, lenses and domes, is possibly a reflection of my interest in looking at things up close, and absorbing the meticulous details of life. As a child I would spend time outside with a magnifying lens, looking at crevices and growths in my small yard, picturing vast landscapes and scenarios.

Lately I have been touched by the concept of contained ecosystems. It is only recently that I have begun adding living "elements" to my work. I am intrigued by the delicate balance and conditions that allow a small community of beings to live. I am also fascinated by the idea of capturing that harmonized system in a tiny jar. Maybe it is from the chaos in my life, that this need for contained harmony arises...

In this piece I was experimenting with some of these multiple interests. From the basic exploration and excitement in how a concave vessel of water can magnify the likeness of its contents, to the more complex atmospheric interactions needed to allow for life to be sustained, this project felt to me like a wonderful starting point, as well as continuation of my path. Working with inexpensive, found materials was another welcomed recurrence.

One of the neat things about this piece is that there is a level of interaction between the terrarium and the aquarium. In this setup, the slow evaporating water of the aquarium acts as a nurturing source of moisture for the terrarium. This is a first experiment on a theme I am exploring; something in the lines of an "island concept" of sorts (luckily whatever I am doing continues to escape my full grasp...)

Though very tiny, the life in this ecosystem is comprised of 3 terrarium plants, one big water-plant and 3 sea snails that eat it. The plant feeds on the abundant light that seeps through the glass, and the snails keep it well trimmed. Occasionally, I add some tap water which renews the mineral nutrients of the little world.

And now for the grand -or preferably minuscule- finale... if only you saw how cute these sea snails are!!!!



  1. Can you say what small plants and snails you used in the test tube?

  2. It has been difficult for me to find a good source to identify some of my terrarium plants, but I am pretty sure the test tube has three specimens of one or another type of Star Moss (Tortula Ruralis). Just in my walks I have found about 5 different "variations" on this same type of moss. It doesn't seem like a moss to me, but I guess it must reproduce through spores.
    The aquarium plant is Java Moss, the most common aquarium plant around, and the snails are Physid Snails, a type of Gilled Snail. I like to use very common creatures to try and redefine what people understand as "value" in nature. I post that value is in the life itself, not the status or rarity or whatever.. Also, I normally create art for $0 cost.
    Anyway, may I ask why you ask?
    Also, if anybody out there knows of a good image-based source for identifying mosses, I would greatly appreciate it. I have many plants that I would love to recognize and study.

  3. this is so great, I love that you put the bulb back into an actual light fitting. i hope you don't mind if i include a link to here on my own blog (if you do just send me a message and i'll take it off right away)? x

  4. I would love to know how to create one of these myself. Do you have a link or directions?