Homo Cyklopicus

oktober 15th, 2006

Admiral and Minister Pedro of the selfproclaimed freestate Ladonia has made an amazing discovery during his excavations. He has found a cranium which, no doubt, belongs to the hitherto unknown Homo Cyklopicus.

The scientists are developing two theories. King Ladon can have been Cyklops. It is also possible that cyclops lived in Ladonia long before and that Ulysseus during his travels visited Ladonia.

cyclop

Admiral Pedro’s sensational discovery the Ladonian Cyklops.

Ladonia is a micronation, proclaimed in 1996 as the result of a years-long court battle between artist Lars Vilks and local authorities over two sculptures, ”Nimis” (Latin – ”too much”) and Arx (Latin – ”fortress”). These two colossal sculptures are erected without permit on a remote part of a nature reserve on Kullabergs northeast stony shores of southern Sweden. The battle about Arx and Nimis has rolled through the court system of Sweden during 20 years and has gone through the District Court and the Court of Civil and Criminal Appeal.
Ladonia is not recognized by any other accredited state, and acknowledging international law, there is no legal basis for calling it a state.
Ladonia acquires a colony in Norway (Telemark) acclaimed in 1997 on May 17th (National Day in Norway). An embassy was built in Falkenberg where the first official state visit also takes place.

Preservation of the Future

maart 10th, 2006

Preserving information and ensuring the transmission of knowledge from one generation to another is an ancient cultural activity. As a field within library and archival science, preservation is only a few decades old. It began primarily as item-level repair and conservation, deriving its original professional traditions and physical techniques in large part from the museum world. To the importance in that world of the repair and conservation of individual pieces deemed to be of special value as artifacts, preservation in libraries has added the significance of the archival value of the object as bearer of historical evidence. In a very short time, preservation has developed into a critically important part of managing library’s and museums most precious assets, its collection. Paradoxically, dedicated as it is to mitigating the deleterious effects of aging, preservation has rapidly become, along with computer applications, one of the most forward-looking fields in the library and archival profession. One step further is the predetermined preservation of all possible things representing the present. What do we preserve for the future?

Based on a text by Abby Smith.

Biosphere II in Arizona (funded by billionaire Ed Bass)

biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 is a 3.15-acre (12,700 m2) structure originally built to be an artificial closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona (USA). Constructed between 1987 and 1991, it was used to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems. It also explored the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth’s. The name comes from the idea that it is modeled on the first biosphere, which is the life system on Earth. The first closed mission lasted from September 26, 1991 to September 26, 1993. The crew were: medical doctor and researcher Roy Walford, Jane Poynter, Taber MacCallum, Mark Nelson, Sally Silverstone, Abigail Alling (a late replacement for Silke Schneider), Mark Van Thillo and Linda Leigh. At a size comparable to two and a half football fields, it was the largest closed system ever created. The sealed nature of the structure allowed scientists to monitor the ever-changing chemistry of the air, water and soil contained within. The health of the human crew was continuously monitored by a medical team. After several month extra oxygen was needed from the outside world. Several animal species died and food was scarce. No mission was ever succesfull in the sense that Biosphere II proved to be a functional alternative to Biosphere I.


Mark Dion

Mobile Wilderness Unit, 2001 (290 x 170 x 380 cm)

Mark Dion Mobile Wilderniss Unit

Damien Hirst

Away from the Flock, 1994

Damien Hirst

Ichthyosaurus

maart 8th, 2006

Mark Dion
Ichthyosaurus, 2003

dion-

(pronounced IK-thee-oh-SAWR-us) Ichthyosaurus was an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile; it was not a dinosaur. This sleek animal could perhaps swim at speeds up to 25 mph (40 kph). Ichthyosaurus lived from the early Jurassic period until the early Cretaceous period, roughly 206 to 140 million years ago.
Anatomy: Ichthyosaurus was about 6.5 feet (2 m) long and ay have weighed about 200 pounds (90 kg). It had a tall dorsal fin, a half-moon-shaped tail, paddle-like flippers, and smooth skin. The nostrils were near the eyes on the top of the head. It had massive ear bones and large eyes, probably indicating that it had acute hearing and keen eyesight. These marine reptiles gave birth to live young.

Diet: Ichthyosaurus’ diet was mostly fish, but may have also included cephalopods (like straight-shelled belemnites).

Fossils: Hundreds of Ichthyosaurus fossils have been found in England, Germany, Greenland, and Alberta, Canada. Even fossilized dung (called coprolites) and fossilized skin impressions have been found. Ichthyosaurus, which means “fish lizard,” was named by Charles Koenig in 1818.

Ichthyosaurus

Extraterrestrial Art

februari 27th, 2006

On the 2nd of June 2003 an artpiece was send to another planet for the first time in human history. The painting, by Damien Hirst, consists of 16 multi-coloured spots on a 5cm by 5cm aluminium plate which was bolted to the lander, which was send to Mars . It had to cope with the cold of Mars, where temperatures drop to minus 70C, and pre-launch sterilisation which heats the painting to 155C.
Every part was designed to be useful. The aluminium plate was used to calibrate Beagle 2’s X-ray, the colours will check the camera, and minerals in the pigments would correct the sensor measuring the soil’s iron content. Beagle 2, named after the famous exploration-ship of Darwin, was launched on board the European Space Agency Mars Express craft from Kazakhstan.
Before Mars Express enters the orbit of Mars, Beagle 2 will be jettisoned and bounce to the planet’s surface, cushioned by inflatable bags. It will analyse sub-surface soil and rocks and take samples of the atmosphere to find out if life ever existed there.
Prof Pillinger, who commisioned Hirst said: “This collaboration is not about displaying art in space but about finding out if there is life on Mars.”
Just a few inches across and resembling a child’s watercolour paint box, the trademark Hirst spot painting was bolted to the British Beagle 2 space probe after a preview at London’s White Cube gallery.

beagle2

The pop group Blur also has a Beagle 2 connection. They wrote the call sign which the probe would send to mission control when it landed on Mars. (listen to the song on BBC website)

Beagle 2 was last seen heading for the red planet after separating from its European Space Agency mothership Mars Express on December 19 2003. Part of a mission estimated to cost $85 million, the probe was supposed to land on Mars a few days later on Christmas Day and search for signs of life, but vanished without trace…

SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is an exploratory science that seeks evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology. (http://www.seti.org)

The Science of Freedom

februari 26th, 2006

Joseph Beuys (1921-1985)-“sculptor, painter, draftsman, graphic designer, action artist, art theorist, politician, and poet”-decided to devote himself to art during World War II. Earlier, he thought he wanted to be a doctor, but just prior to enlisting he had spent a year as an acrobat in the circus so nothing was certain….
Beuys had been fascinated since childhood by the natural sciences, and thought that medicine would offer a way to integrate his interest in science with his urge to bring about healing. He would actually spend his life doing these very things, but art, not medicine, would be his vehicle.
In the 1970s Beuys created the Theory of Social Sculpture:
“My objects are to be seen as stimulants for the transformation of the idea of sculpture. . . or of art in general. They should provoke thoughts about what sculpture can be and how the concept of sculpting can be extended to the invisible materials used by everyone.
THINKING FORMS–how we mold our thoughts or
SPOKEN FORMS–how we shape our thoughts into words or
SOCIAL SCULPTURE–how we mold and shape the world in which we live:
SCULPTURE AS AN EVOLUTIONARY PROCESS; EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST.
That is why the nature of my sculpture is not fixed and finished, processes continue in most of them: chemical reactions, fermentations, color changes, decay, drying up. Everything is in a state of change.”

To Beuys, ‘Social Sculpture’ based upon interactive dialogue had the potential to be transformative and healing. In the action ‘ I Like America And America Likes Me’, Beuys shared living quarters with a live coyote for five days in the Rene Block Gallery in New York.
He often used animals to teach the lessons of social ecology -“the cultural characteristics and patterns of social organisation that have brought about the current ecological crisis” -and ecofeminism- how the domination of man over the natural world reproduces his domination in society, leading to mutually catastrophic destruction.


I Like America And America Likes Me, 1974

Beuys-Coyote

“To make people free is the aim of art, therefore art for me is the science of freedom.” Joseph Beuys

Japanese Golfball Eggs

februari 25th, 2006

Oology is the branch of zoology that deals with the study of eggs, especially birds’ eggs. It can also be applied to the hobby of collecting wild birds’ eggs (which is now illegal in many jurisdictions). Oology includes the study of the breeding habits of birds, and the study of their nests. (The study of birds’ nests is sometimes called caliology).
Birds’ eggs are conveniently classified as marked or unmarked, according to the ground color. Birds which lay their eggs in holes in trees or in the ground almost always have white, unspotted eggs. Birds which build in trees generally have blue or greenish eggs, either spotted or unspotted, while birds that build in bushes, near the ground, are likely to lay speckled eggs.

Guillaume Bijl
‘Sorry’, 1987 (15cm x 8cm x 15cm)

Guillaume Bijl

Maarten Vanden Eynde
Genetologic Research Nr. 17, 2004 (16cm x 20cm x 16cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.17

The Three Body Problem

februari 19th, 2006

The Three Body Problem is the mathematical problem of finding the positions and velocities of three massive bodies, which are interacting each other gravitationally, at any point in the future or the past, given their present positions, masses, and velocities. An example would be to completely solve the behavior of the Sun-Jupiter-Saturn system, or that of three mutually orbiting stars. It is a vastly more difficult exercise than the two-body problem. In fact, as Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) and others showed, the three-body problem is impossible to solve in the general case; that is, given three bodies in a random configuration, the resulting motion nearly always turns out to be chaotic: no one can predict precisely what paths those bodies would follow.

Watch here: The Tree Body Problem animation

Genetologic Research Nr. 6, 2003 (300cm x 300cm x 300cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.6

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.6b

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Three wooden (oak) beams are manually bended by fire and water during a three week lasting ‘torture-session’. After being liberated from the bending-machine, the beams stay in their forced position. The thee bodies are photographed in a certain way, but can change position without loosing their inter-relating balance. Various positions have been tried and just a few points of view bring them into a harmonious equilibrium. Any change or random elaboration creates chaos or disharmony.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life

februari 3rd, 2006

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration

In 1958, the United States Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. Its purpose was to coordinate and conduct all aeronautical and space activites for the United States of America, except those of the military. Among the many programs which NASA now runs, one is the search for life outside our home planet. NASA is currently examining our neighbor planet Mars for signs of life, as well as the moons of other planets in our solar system. It has also developed highly advanced technology for the search of life outside of our own solar system, such as special radars and infrared telescopes.

Mars

For decades, debates have been common and fierce as to whether life existed on our closest eighboring planet, Mars. Many believed that other beings, Martians, did indeed exist, and were highly intelligent. Others claimed that there was no proof of this, and that life as we know it was, in fact, not possible due to the extreme conditions of the Martian environment. In 1976, NASA sent two landers, Viking I and Viking II, to the surface of Mars to determine if life did indeed exist. However, when these landers executed their experiments, they showed rather convincingly that there were no organic compounds above the one part per billion level in the upper few centimeters of the surface. The landers also reported on the extreme environment of Mars, with temperatures falling to 120o Fahrenheit (48.9oC) below 0 at night. So, for a while the debate subsided surrounding the existence of life on Mars.

ALH84001

In 1996, a meteor was found in Allan Hills, Antarctica. Upon examination, it was discovered that this meteor, which is 4.5 billion years old, fell to the earth 13,000 years ago, and possibly contained evidence of life on Mars. Inside the meteor, along tiny cracks, scientists found evidence of what many believe to be ancient bacteria.

mars

There are four main clues which bring some scientists to this conclusion. One is that the meteorite is definitely of Martian origin and that it contains carbonate globules. The second is the presence of polycyclic aromatic compounds, which are complex organic molecules. The third piece of evidence is the presence of iron and other compounds which appear to be like those made by bacteria. The last, and perhaps most intriguing , is the pictures of the possible fossilized bacteria themselves. When taken separately, these pieces of evidence probably wouldnt amount to much. But what is compelling is that all of these pieces of evidence occurr within millimeters of each other.

However, skeptics still remain. Some simply arent sure, while others are certain that this meteorite contains no evidence of former life.. However, all agree that convincing evidence would contain proof that the fossils had cell walls, that the cells had been divided, and that chemicals more closely related to living organisms as we know them be found. And so, the debates continue. While these debates over ALH84001 occur, the science community continues its pursuit in finding signs of life, extant or extinct, on Mars.

Pathfinder, Sojourner

On July 4, 1997, a small spacecraft dropped onto Mars and tumbled to a stop. This pod, sent by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be examining and doing tests on the Mars surface. This pod, called Pathfinder, will be sending signals back to Earth concerning the atmosphere and soil. It has also deployed a small land rover, similar to radio controlled cars.

mars2

This rover, called Sojourner, has been testing the Martian rocks for their minerals. In 2002, testing will be done on a different Mars probe to see if organic compounds or amino acids are present.If it finds amino acids buried in the surface, it will be testing to determine the chirality of the molecules. If they are homochiral, then that would be strong evidence that life existed at one point on Mars. If the amino acids are racemized, then it will be difficult to determine if they originated from life. In the next several years, NASA will be sending more space craft to Mars, to continue in its quest for extraterrestrial life.

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

If you saw the movie Contact, written by Carl Sagan, you saw a lot of people with headphones listening to static coming from outer space. Then suddenly, one person is lucky enough to receive a signal from intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe. This may seem farfetched, but real people have actually been doing this for a living.

In 1959, a magazine article by Coccini and Morrison ignited widespread interest in the idea of searching for signals sent by intelligent beings in the universe. It was not until 1971, however, that the first international Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, meeting occurred. One year later, Oliver and Billingham, in a paper called the Cyclops Report, layed out five main points as to why an organization should be formed to officially handle the SETI issue. The conclusion that Oliver and Billingham came to in the Cyclops report was that a SETI institute should be created as an ongoing part of the total NASA space program, with its own funding and budget. In 1976, the first institutionalized SETI program within NASA was created as the SETI Program Office at Ames Research Center. In 1977, JPL created a SETI office.

Originally, the goal of SETI was to detect signals from outer space. To accomplish this, giant radar dishes were designed and built. In Arecibo, high in the mountains of Puerto Rico, a 305-meter radio telescopeis used to detect signals and survey the sky.

radar

Its goal is to search for 800-1000 solar-type stars which are within 100 light years of the Ames Targeted Search Element. The goal of JPLs Sky Survey Element is to observe the entire sky with smaller, 34-meter telescopes. When the project is completed, it will have cost more than $108 million.

(Possible Mini Chem Window detailing the Cyclops report which sparked interest in SETI) The first item in their paper was that planetary systems were common, and that our solar system was in no way unique. Their second point was that many of these planetary systems contain at least one planet which is in the habitable zone. Oliver and Billingham also pointed out that, as shown by experiments by Miller and others, the organic compounds needed for the beginning of life may be formed in large quantities. The fourth point of the Cyclops Report was that stars typically have a life span long enough to support the evolution of life. Their last point was that if biological evolution did occur, then intelligent life would evolve.

Link to Mars:
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/photo_gallery/photogallery-mars.html

Jim Plaxco
Martian Crater, 2005

mars-crater

Source: Mars Global Surveyor Narrow Angle Camera in July 1998.
The target area lies in the Cebrenia quadrangle of Mars and is centered on 33.25° latitude, 238.6° longitude. The crater is approximately 4 kilometers in diameter.

The Origin of Life Remake

februari 2nd, 2006

The Miller/Urey Experiment

By the 1950s, scientists were in hot pursuit of the origin of life. Around the world, the scientific community was examining what kind of environment would be needed to allow life to begin. In 1953, Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey, working at the University of Chicago, conducted an experiment which would change the approach of scientific investigation into the origin of life.

Miller took molecules which were believed to represent the major components of the early Earth’s atmosphere and put them into a closed system

life remake

The gases they used were methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O). Next, he ran a continuous electric current through the system, to simulate lightning storms believed to be common on the early earth. Analysis of the experiment was done by chromotography. At the end of one week, Miller observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed some of the amino acids which are used to make proteins. Perhaps most importantly, Miller’s experiment showed that organic compounds such as amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made easily under the conditions that scientists believed to be present on the early earth. This enormous finding inspired a multitude of further experiments.

miller

In 1961, Juan Oro found that amino acids could be made from hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and ammonia in an aqueous solution. He also found that his experiment produced an amazing amount of the nucleotide base, adenine. Adenine is of tremendous biological significance as an organic compound because it is one of the four bases in RNA and DNA. It is also a component of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is a major energy releasing molecule in cells. Experiments conducted later showed that the other RNA and DNA bases could be obtained through simulated prebiotic chemistry with a reducing atmosphere.

These discoveries created a stir within the science community. Scientists became very optimistic that the questions about the origin of life would be solved within a few decades. This has not been the case, however. Instead, the investigation into life’s origins seems only to have just begun.

There has been a recent wave of skepticism concerning Miller’s experiment because it is now believed that the early earth’s atmosphere did not contain predominantly reductant molecules. Another objection is that this experiment required a tremendous amount of energy. While it is believed lightning storms were extremely common on the primitive Earth, they were not continuous as the Miller/Urey experiment portrayed. Thus it has been argued that while amino acids and other organic compounds may have been formed, they would not have been formed in the amounts which this experiment produced.

Many of the compounds made in the Miller/Urey experiment are known to exist in outer space. On September 28, 1969, a meteorite fell over Murchison, Australia. While only 100 kilograms were recovered, analysis of the meteorite has shown that it is rich with amino acids. Over 90 amino acids have been identified by researchers to date. Nineteen of these amino acids are found on Earth. (table showing comparison of Murchison meteorite to Miller/Urey experiment) The early Earth is believed to be similar to many of the asteroids and comets still roaming the galaxy. If amino acids are able to survive in outer space under extreme conditions, then this might suggest that amino acids were present when the Earth was formed. More importantly, the Murchison meteorite has demonstrated that the Earth may have acquired some of its amino acids and other organic compounds by planetary infall.

If these compounds were not created in a reducing atmosphere here on Earth as Miller suggested, then where did they come from? New theories have recently been offered as alternative sites for the origin of life.

The Origin and Development of Life on Earth

februari 2nd, 2006

1. The Uniformity of Life

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was one of the first who saw the uniformity in all living organisms. He did extensive research on plants and animals and found so many comparability’s in structure and chemical composition that he came to the following conclusion: ‘probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form (oervorm)’
Right now we know that this uniformity of life originates from DNA (DeoxyriboNucleid Acid) which can be found in the core of every cell. Certain parts of this DNA is copied into the messenger-RNA (RiboNucleic Acid). This copy leaves the cell-core into the cell-liquid to be transformed into endosperms. This is the central dogma of Biology.
The hereditary material from humans consists of +/- three billion construction toes (bouwstenen); the total length of DNA in every cell is about two meters. A cell is about hundred micrometer big and the core is just a small part of it. In order to store two meters of DNA in the cell-core, the DNA is folded compactly into chromosomes with the aid of some endosperms. Each of the 23 pair of chromosomes that we all have in every cell-core, exists of one long folded up DNA-molecule. To get an idea of the the incredible density: if you take all the DNA from all our chromosomes from all our bobycells, you can make a line which is one hundred times the distance from the earth to the sun.
The amazing part is that all this DNA originates from an original DNA string of two meters, of which we all started when we were conceived.

Now the question is which is the most recent common descendant of all plants, animals, moulds and micro-organisms that ever lived on this planet?
What was it? When did it live? And where did it come from?

2. From Soup to Pizza.

RNA is a barrier of hereditary information, but can also influence molecules. RNA is just like DNA a string of nucleine sour. It is build up out of sugar, phosphate and nitrogen bases, but consists usually of one string. DNA has two. RNA arises more easy than DNA, it is extremely flexible and occurs in different qualities. Some forms of RNA have functions, just like some endosperms, which can accelerate a chemical reaction: so called ‘catalytic functions’. Basically RNA can preform both functions of DNA and Endosperms. Therefor RNA can be the chicken and the egg at the same time.

To make molecules, like RNA- molecules, you need to have atoms. The basis material for the creation of life is given by nucleo synthesis, the forming of new atoms. This occurred during core fusion processes, just after the Big Bang, and during the formation of new stars.
With many different atoms a chemical evolution can take place. But in order to start this process the atoms need to be put together. This could have happened by the impact of meteorites, who could have delivered simple organic connections.
It is generally believed that a comet consists basically of a loose conglomeration of frozen gases with embedded material similar to that found in the carbonaceous chondritic meteorites, and consequently that comets may be nearly pristine samples of the original solar nebula1−5. Thermal processing within comets could have played an important part in determining their present state; in particular, we find that liquid water might have been available in some comets over geologically and biologically significant spans of time. It follows that a cometary origin is not excluded for some thermally metamorphosed meteorites and asteroids, that comets may contain quite complex organic molecules, and that comets may have played a role in the origin and conceivably even in the subsequent evolution of terrestrial life.

It could also have taken place under the crust of the earth, deep under the oceans. By shifting the tectonic plates the atoms could have gone to the surface and started to make molecules. In the classical ‘prebiotic soup’ model of the origin of life, biomolecules are seen arising abiotically on the Earth and then interacting randomly in solution to form proto-cells. This model has encountered increasing difficulties, however, and recently several alternatives have been proposed. In some of these models, it is postulated that proto-cells evolved from simple biomolecular complexes originally attached to mineral surfaces, especially those of pyrite. The subsequent evolution of these complexes has been likened to embryonic development. Pyrite is a connection of sulphur and iron which were always abundantly present on earth. All chemical reactions necessary to create endosperms from simple anorganic molecules, can take place on the surface of pyrite. Here the ‘soup’ becomes a ‘primitive pizza’.

An alternative theory is the one of clay particles. The involvement of clay surfaces in the origin of the first genetic molecules on Earth has long been suggested. However, the formation of these polymers was not sufficient by itself to initiate the evolutionary process leading to the appearance of life. These macromolecules had to persist in primeval habitats so that their biological potentiality could be expressed. So maybe both theories intertwine somehow. Pyrite could provide the necessary atoms and create a basis where the process can occur, and clay particles could provide the cover for hazardous influences from the outside. Since there was no ozone layer at that time the deadly UV radiation killed any possible life on earth.
These findings indicate that primordial genetic molecules adsorbed on clay minerals would have been protected against degrading agents present in the environment and would have been in the right conditions to undergo evolutionary processes.

First came single-celled organisms, bacteria, that lived mostly in mud and water until they did something that radically changed the earth: they produced their food through photosynthesis. Cells could now remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and with the help of sunlight combine it with water to make sugars. This was a major breakthrough for life on earth: the waste product of this photosynthetic reaction is oxygen.

Restauration du Lac de Montbel, 2003

Maarten Vanden Eynde restauration

Maarten Vanden Eynde

In 2003 I went to France to restore a dried out lake near the city of Montbel. The bottom is clay and dries out more and more every year. The white restoration paste is plaster. The work existed only temporary and was destroyed in spring, when new water came and filled up the lake again.

Alienated Nature

januari 31st, 2006

Panamarenko
Archeopterix

Panamarenko

In his art works Panamarenko brings the wonderful world of technics and natural sciences back to life. In this way the dream of free and unhindered move, and the aesthetic aspect of the scientific analysis regain their place in the world they belong to: the world of the human being determining its position within the nature. In his projects the artist freely and inventively plays with the formal rules of mechanics and physics.
Owing to the unrestrained development of scientific knowledge the complexity of the idea of nature did also proportionally increase. This is the reason of the paradox that the human being of today is alienated from nature of which it nevertheless always deepened its knowledge.


Raven’s Variable Matrix, 2000

panamarenko raven

Meikever, 1975

Panamarenko Meikever

What is Life?

januari 21st, 2006

Free translated after Prof.dr.Steph B.J. Menken

If we talk about the genetology of life, we must determin what life is about. First af all one recognizes life by the existence of complex structures, with several functions. One of the most important is metabolism, (stofwisseling). Substances and energy go into a cel, which makes it live and grow, so it can divide itself and produce waste products. An other characteristic of life is heredity (erfelijkheid). Hereditary material is present in a cel and doubles itself before being devided. Like this singularities can be passed on from one generation to the other.
Life that we know exists mostly of water and carbides (koolstofverbindingen). This is what thrives scientists in their search for life in the universe. Maybe there are other forms of life -use your imagination-, but it’s hard looking for them with the equipment we send of on a rocket or Marslander into the universe. Thats why the search for water and organic substances is still the main target. These substances exist in a chain of one or more carbon atoms, completed with other atoms. Examples of these substances are endosperms (eiwitten), carbohydrates, fats, and also fossile fuel crude (aardolie), which arises from the sediments of plant rests.

Maarten Vanden Eynde
‘Genetologic Research Nr. 13’, 2004 (50cm x 2cm x 18cm)

nr.13

Chicken or Egg.
In the search for the genetology of life, we stumble on two ‘chicken-or-eggquestions’. De first one is: what was first, heredity or metabolism? And the second one is: what was first, DNA or endosperms? DNA has all the hereditary information, but can not reproduce itself. Endosperms are nescessary to run the proces. DNA has the recepie for it, but endosperms have to be made first. If we start with endosperms, replication can take place, but that doesn’t create heredity, because the basis of that, DNA, is not there. DNA and endosperms are both nescessary for metabolism and heredity.

INTERMEZZO: Kip of ei?
Wat was er het eerst, de kip of het ei? Een onderzoekster uit Cambridge, Massachusetts (V.S.) heeft een antwoord op die vraag gevonden. Zij stuurde twee dozen op naar een postkantoor in New York, een does met een kip en een met een ei. Daarna is ze bliksemsnel per vliegtuig naar dat postkantoor in New York gegaan. Daar kon ze vaststellen dat de kip er het eerst was. Dit onderzoek is gepubliceerd in het hilarische tijdschrift Annals of Improbable Research (annalen van onwaarschijnlijk onderzoek), deel vier, jaargang 2003 (www.improb.com)

Maarten Vanden Eynde
‘Genetologic Research Nr. 16’, 2004 (20cm x 20cm 50cm)

nr.16

Tree Mountain – A Living Time Capsule

januari 7th, 2006

Agnes Denes

A Huge man-made mountain measuring 240m long, 270m wide, 28m high and elliptical in shape was planted with 10.000 trees by 10.000 people from all over the world at Pinziö gravel pits near Ylöjärvi, Finland, as part of a massive earthwork and land reclamation project. The project was officialy announced by the Finish government at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on Earth Environment Day.<5 June 1992> as Finlands contribution to help alleviate the world’s ecological stress. Sponsored by the United Nations Environmental Program and the Finnish Ministry of Environment, Tree Mountain is protected land to be maintained for four centuries, eventualy creating a real (virgin) forest. The trees are planted in an intricate mathematical pattern derived from a combination of the golden section and pineapple/sunflower patterns. Tree Mountain is the largest monument on earth that is international in scope, unparalleled in duration, and not dedicated to the human ego, but to benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy. Tree mountain, conceived in 1982, affirms humanity’s commitment to the future as well as to the ecological, social and cultural life on the planet. It is designed to unite the human intellect with the majesty of nature.

mountain

tree mountain

The Lightning Field

januari 5th, 2006

Walter De Maria

The Lightning Field, 1977, by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land Art situated in a remote area of the high desert of southwestern New Mexico. It is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. The poles-two inches in diameter and averaging 20 feet and 7½ inches in height-are spaced 220 feet apart and have solid pointed tips that define a horizontal plane. Only after a lightning strike has advanced to an area of about 61 m above the The Lightning Fielf can it sense the poles. The experience of the work directly in nature, the effect of the changing light, the shifting space, heat and the sense of waiting for a specific event (the lightning) heightens the viewer’s sense of scale and time.

Lightning Field

Genetologic Research Nr. 5bis, 2003 (100cm x 100cm x 450cm) 1km long

Maarten Vanden Eynde Dakpark

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Bospolder Tussen Dijken, 2003, by the Belgian sculptor Maarten Vanden Eynde, is a work of Land Art in a remote area of Bospolder Tussendijken, near Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It is comprised of 34 wooden beams installed in plastic tubs and covered with earth. Each pole is 450 cm in length and weighs, together with the tub, about 500 kilo. The whole work stretches out over 1 km. The wood is bended, twisted and stretched because of the weather conditions and the changing of seasons.

boom-alleen

Joseph Beuys

Beuys’ planting of 7000 oak trees troughout the city of Kassel for Documenta7 embodied a wide concept of ecology which grows with time. 7000 trees were planted next to a basalt stone marker. Beuys stated that the project is a ‘movement of the human capacity towards a new concept of art, in symbolic communication with nature.’ The first tree was planted in 1982; the last tree was planted eighteen months after Beuys’ death at the opening of Documenta8 in 1987 by his son Wenzel Beuys.

‘I believe that planting these oaks is necessary not only in biospheric terms, that is to say, in the context of matter and ecology, but in that it will raise ecological consciousness-raise it increasingly, in the course of the years to come, because we shall never stop planting.’

‘I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heartwood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet.’

-Joseph Beuys, quoted by Johannes Stuttgen, 1982

7000 oaks

beuys

beuys2

Growth Rings of Wooden Beams

november 23rd, 2005

Giuseppe Penone

Among the central members of the Arte Povera group, Penone was perhaps the one most drawn to organic materials. In a series of sculptures begun in 1969, for instance, the artist chiseled through the growth rings of wooden beams to excavate tender saplings from within.

(11-Meter Tree), 1989

penone

Penone made this work using a chainsaw and chisel to cut back the layers of growth from a single timber beam. He worked carefully around the knots to reveal the internal structure of narrow core and developing branches. The form of a young tree is exposed, while part of the beam is left untouched to signify its status as a manmade object. By returning the tree to an earlier stage of its growth, Penone reverses the effects of time.

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Since 2000 Vanden Eynde is working with trees and the remnants of them: wooden beams and sticks. In various attempt to reassemble a tree he used the ever present year rings as natural reference and starting point for his attempts.

Pre-Genetologic Research, 2000 (100cm x 100cm x 450cm) one piece

Maarten Vanden Eynde eschatology nr 2

Pre-Genetologic Research: Stam-Boom, 2001 (100cm x 350cm 100cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde stam boom

Genetolocic Research Nr. 2&4, 2003 (30cm x 50cm x 180cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.2&4

Genetolocic Research Nr. 23, 2005 (50cm x 50cm x 5cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.23

With Genetologic Research Nr. 9 Vanden Eynde made the opposite movement by creating a beam from a branch. The wood fibres of the heavy oakwooden branch are followed creating an organic and impossible curved beam. The work was part of a series where wood was being tortured and transformed by machines. The metal boxes on both sides are the only reminders of human interference.


Genetologic Research Nr. 9, 2004 (50cm x 50cm x 250cm)

Maarten Vanden Eynde Genetology nr.9