januari 6th, 2009

Edward Burtynsky
Kennecott Copper Mine No. 22, Bingham Valley, Utah,

Edward Burtynsky

‘Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis’. – Edward Burtynsky

Tanggu Port, Tianjin, 2005

Edward Burtynsky

‘These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire – a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times’.
Edward Burtynsky

Oxford Tire Pile No. 5, Westley, CA, 1999

Edward Burtynsky

Oil Fields No. 13, Taft, California, 2002

Edward Burtynsky

Urban Renewal #5, City Overview From Top of Military Hospital, Shanghai, 2004

Edward Burtynsky

Asphalt Aftermath

mei 12th, 2008

Robert Smitson
Asphalt Rundown, 1969

robert smitson

Smithson’s interest in the second law of thermodynamics completely dominated his life and work. Much of his art is associated with the concept of entropy: the law that states that molecular disorder can only increase, and as such the universe will eventually run down (a law that has since been discredited). In this piece, liquid asphalt slides from the dump truck and runs down an eroded hill in a quarry near Rome, Italy forming an abstract expressionist canvas. However, the work cannot only be considered aesthetically –we’re forced to consider the ecology (What is the damage being done? Who will clean this up? How will the earth recover?). By performing an act with the weapon of urban sprawl–asphalt–we are forced to look at the effects of industrialization on the landscape under a hard light. – D. Scott Hessels –

Robert Smitson died in a plane crash while photographing a work in Texas, called Amarillo Ramp (1973), consisting of a 140 foot diameter partial circle of rock, which rises out of the level ground to a height of around 15 feet. The artificial lake in which the piece once emerged is now dry, and the sculpture is slowly eroding.

robert smitson amarillo

Biomimetic Chair

mei 2nd, 2008

Ai Weiwei
Monumental Junkyard, 2006
each 210 x 80 cm

Ai weiwei monumental junkjard

Marble Chair, 2008
125 x 52 x 50 cm

Ai weiwei marble chair

“The marble chair is made from a solid piece of a stone into a chair, into something which ironically overthrew the idea of the wooden classic chair. The work as one piece is strongly against its own form, its own way of structure. In the kind of making it really dismisses its own meaning. I enjoy that part.” – Ai Weiwei –

Joris Laarman
Bone Chair

joris laarman bone chair

Joris Laarman’s Bone chair takes its inspiration from the efficient way that bones grow (adding material where strength is needed and taking away material where it’s unnecessary). Made using a digital tool developed by GM that copies these methods of construction, Laarman says the ironic result of his biomimetic technique is “an almost historic elegancy” that is “far more efficient compared to modern geometric shapes.”

If evolution could create a chair…
Trees have the ability to add material where strength it is needed. But bones also have the ability to take away material where it is not needed. With this knowledge the International Development Centre Adam Opel GmbH, a part of General Motors Engineering Europe created a dynamic digital tool to copy these ways of constructing used for optimizing car parts. In a way it quite precisely copies the way evolution constructs. I didn’t use it to create the next worlds perfect chair but as a high tech sculpting tool to create elegant shape with a kind of legitimacy. The chair is the first in a series and the process can be applied to any scale until architectural sizes in any material strength…

credits to: Prof. Dr. Mattheck, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe and Gravotech B.V.

Plastic Plankton

maart 6th, 2008

‘Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.’ – Andy Warhol


A “floating landfill, made up of plastic particles is swirling in a convergence zone about 30 to 40 degrees north latitude and 135 to 145 west longitude. It’s about 1,000 miles west of California and 1,000 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands — a week’s journey by boat from the nearest port. The trash collects in one area, known as the North Pacific Gyre, due to a clockwise trade wind that circulates along the Pacific Rim. While the plastic trash floats along, instead of biodegrading, it is “photodegrading,” — the sun’s UV rays turn the bottle brittle, much like they would crack the vinyl on a car roof. They break down the bottle into small pieces and, in some cases, into particles as fine as dust.

Charles Moore, the marine researcher at the Algalita Marina Research Foundation in Long Beach who has been studying and publicizing the patch for the past 10 years, said the debris — which he estimates weighs 3 million tons and covers an area twice the size of Texas — is made up mostly of fine plastic chips and is impossible to skim out of the ocean. Also, it’s undetectable by overhead satellite photos because it’s 80 percent plastic and therefore translucent. The plastic moves just beneath the surface, from one inch to depths of 300 feet, according to samples Moore collected on the most recent trip. (1)


Ironically, the debris is re-entering the oceans whence it came; the ancient plankton that once floated on Earth’s primordial sea gave rise to the petroleum now being transformed into plastic polymers. That exhumed life, our “civilized plankton,” is, in effect, competing with its natural counterparts, as well as with those life-forms that directly or indirectly feed on them. Inside the North Pacific Gyre the natural plankton is outnumbered 6 to 1 in favor of the plastic plankton. The large ratio of plastic to plankton found in this study has the potential to affect many types of biota. Most susceptible are the birds and filter feeders that focus their feeding activities on the upper portion of the water column. Many birds have been examined and found to contain small debris in their stomachs, a result of their mistaking plastic for food


Worldwide, 82 of 144 bird species examined contained small debris in their stomachs, and in many species the incidence of ingestion exceeds 80% of the individuals.

The scale of the phenomenon is astounding. Plastic debris in now the most common surface feature of the world’s oceans. Because 40 percent of the oceans are classified as subtropical gyres, a fourth of the planet’s surface area has become an accumulator of floating plastic debris. What can be done with this new class of products made specifically to defeat natural recycling? How can the dictum “In ecosystems, everything is used” be made to work with plastic? (2)

plastic land

(1) Based on a text by Justin Berton / San Francisco Chronicle
(2) Based on a text by Charles Moore


november 21st, 2006

Current model

“In 1912, German meteorologist Alfred Wegener first put forward the theory of continental drift to describe the movement of major landmasses across the surface of the planet.
Initially, the theory was widely criticised but then later absorbed into the current, accepted model of continental dynamics known as plate tectonics.
Continents move at slower than a snail’s pace, like pieces of a puzzle, squeezing together and pulling apart to form oceans and landmasses of various sizes.
Movements deep within the Earth are thought to drive the whole process, although the exact mechanism is still being investigated.”
(Dr David Whitehouse)

In geology, Rodinia (from the Russian родина, or “motherland”) refers to one of the oldest known supercontinents, which contained most or all of Earth’s then-current landmass. Paleomagnetic evidence provides clues to the paleolatitude of individual formations, but not to their longitude, which geologists have pieced together by comparing similar strata, often now widely dispersed.


Geologic evidence suggests that Rodinia formed and broke apart in the Neoproterozoic, probably existing as a single continent from 1 billion years ago until it began to rift into eight smaller continents about 800 million years ago. It is thought to have been largely responsible for the cold climate of the Neoproterozoic era.

Rodinia began forming about 1.3 billion years ago from three or four pre-existing continents, an event known as the Grenville orogeny. The absence of fossils of hard-shelled organisms and reliable paleomagnetic data make the movements of continents earlier in the Precambrian, prior to this event, uncertain. (See Columbia for one possible reconstruction of an earlier supercontinent.)
The arrangement of Rodinia has been hypothesized using paleomagnetic data from the Seychelles islands and India and the Grenville mountain belts, which were formed by the Grenville orogeny and span multiple modern continents, as references.
Although the details are disputed by paleogeographers, the continental cratons that formed Rodinia appear to have clustered around Laurentia (proto-North America), which constituted Rodinia’s core.
It appears that the East Coast of Laurentia lay adjacent to the West Coast of South America, while a conjoined Australia and Antarctica seem to have lain against the proto-North American West Coast. A third craton, what would become north-central Africa, was caught in between these two colliding masses.
Other cratons such as the Kalahari (southern Africa), the Congo (west-central Africa), and the Sao Francisco (southeastern South American), appear to have been separate from the rest of Rodinia.


Rodinia’s landmass was probably centered south of the equator. Because Earth was at that time experiencing the Cryogenian period of glaciation, and temperatures were at least as cool as today, substantial areas of Rodinia may have been covered by glaciers or the southern polar ice cap. The interior of the continent, being so distant from the temperature-moderating effects of the ocean, was probably seasonally extremely cold. (See continental climate.) It was surrounded by the superocean geologists are calling Mirovia (from mir, the Russian word for “globe”).
Cold temperatures may have been exaggerated during the early stages of continental rifting. Geothermal heating peaks in crust about to be rifted; and since warmer rocks are less dense, the crustal rocks rise up relative to their surroundings. This rising creates areas of higher altitude, where the air is cooler and ice is less likely to melt with changes in season, and it may explain the evidence of abundant glaciation in the Ediacaran period.
The eventual rifting of the continents created new oceans, and seafloor spreading, which produces warmer less-dense rock, probably increased sea level by displacing ocean water. The result was a greater number of shallower oceans.
The evaporation from these oceans may have increased rainfall, which, in turn, increased the weathering of exposed rock. By inputting δ18O data into computer models, it has been shown that in conjunction with quick-weathering volcanic rock, this increased rainfall may have reduced greenhouse gas levels to below the threshold required to trigger the period of extreme glaciation known as Snowball Earth.
All of this tectonic activity also introduced into the marine environment biologically important nutrients, which may have played an important role in the development of the earliest animals.


In contrast to Rodinia’s formation, the movements of continental masses during and since its breakup are fairly well understood. Evidence of extensive lava flows and volcanic eruptions around the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, especially in North America, suggest that Rodinia began to rift apart no later than 750 million years ago. Other continents, including Baltica and Amazonia, rifted off Laurentia 600 to 550 million years ago, opening the Iapetus Ocean between them. The separation also led to the birth of Panthalassic Ocean (or Paleo-Pacific)
The eight continents that made up Rodinia later re-assembled into another global supercontinent called Pannotia and, after that, once more as Pangaea.


Ore Genesis

november 18th, 2006

Maarten Vanden Eynde

Genetologic Research Nr. 25: Ore Crystal, 2006
60cm x 80cm x 160cm

Maarten Vanden Eynde Nr. 25

An ore is a volume of rock containing components or minerals in a mode of occurrence which renders it valuable for mining.
Rare samples of ore in the form of exceptionally beautiful crystals, exotic layering (when sectioned or polished) or metallic presentations such as large nuggets or chrystaline formations of metals such as gold or copper may command a value far beyond their value as mere ore or raw metal for subsequent reduction to utilitarian purposes.The grade or contained concentration of an ore mineral, or metal, as well as its form of occurrence, will directly affect the costs associated with mining the ore. The cost of extraction must thus be weighted against the contained metal value of the rock and a ‘cut-off grade’ used to define what is ore and what is waste.
Ore minerals are generally oxides, sulfides, silicates, or “native” metals (such as copper) that are not commonly concentrated in the Earth’s crust or “noble” metals (not usually forming compounds) such as gold. The ores must be processed to extract the metals of interest from the waste rock and from the ore minerals.
Ore bodies are formed by a variety of geological processes. The process of ore formation is called ore genesis.


The various theories of ore genesis explain how the various types of mineral deposits form within the Earth’s crust. Ore genesis theories generally involve three components: source, transport or conduit, and trap. This also applies to the petroleum industry, which was first to use this methodology.
Source is required because metal must come from somewhere, and be liberated by some process.
Transport is required first to move the metal bearing fluids or solid minerals into the right position, and refers to the act of physically moving the metal, as well as chemical or physical phenomenon which encourage movement.
Trapping is required to concentrate the metal via some physical, chemical or geological mechanism into a concentration which forms mineable ore.
The biggest deposits are formed when the source is large, the transport mechanism is efficient, and the trap is active and ready at the right time.

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.