NANO DANCE: Laboratory Van Leeuwenhoek (Paintings about the Microcosmos)
At five o’clock in the morning, before the late summer sun begins to show behind the mountains, the kitchen light draws a myriad of different moths to the window. Many are very small but against the glass the details of their insect undersides and semi-transparent wings are plainly visible against the black and dull green night spread across the arroyo. They seem to glow as they cling to the window surface, transfixed and easy to examine.
The lenses of my prescription eyeglasses allow me to transition from foreground, middle and background across seamless trifocals. Close up for reading works but as one imagines them working like a magnifying glass, they cannot deliver what they haven’t been made to do. The free movement of a magnifying glass, the focusing mechanism of the microscope’s telescoping barrels bring the small into our visible world for us. Imagining a collage-like record of these movements – bringing small details into focus – the compositions of these paintings create a sense of microscopy from Van Leeuwenhouk to the present.
Cellular life, the details of insects, the structure of crystals and the microchip all represent a world that happens parallel to our own, interacting with and enabling aspects of our lives that we rarely have a glimpse of. The old adage “seeing is believing” was revolutionized by the lenses of Van Leeuwenhoek, followed by increasingly complex visions and interactions with the world around us.
The circuit board and the circulatory systems of insects are paths that define ‘work’ and ‘life’ which are visible and have increased credibility thereby. An entire universe of motion exists at this nano level and it is one that we have always been connected to and also dependent upon. Imagining the history of possibilities that we interact with on the nano level is the subject of these paintings. The span of our lives, the extent of generations before and after us, are all illuminated by microscopy as the moths at the pre-dawn window are. We see and believe their physical presence throughout our lives. What would it be like to be able to fathom the ‘soul’ of these minute motions that are a constant part of the fabric of life, a nano-psychology of existence hidden in plain view?