Measure of Visibility

Damage Control

Experiment all set, weeks of watching small changes and monitoring the environment. Two years in the process of building from one experiment to another, refining the cycle of growth and exhausting the nutrient material in both creative and scientific discovery. What might appear as simple experiments with seeds, are in fact, a means to expand knowledge of leading science and technology research whilst communicating this knowledge through art. At this point and during the most important design stage of the experiment, a major problem occurred, unnoticed until its visibility – fungus gnats.

Fungus Gnats @ Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart
Fungus Gnats @ Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart

These tiny flies doing the upmost damage, laying eggs and possibly putting an end to my experiment. Fortunately, working in collaboration with scientist, Dr Sergio Moroni, his quick response and advise led me to take immediate action. Although first steps were to eradicate any signs of the larvae in the soil mixture, I revised my plan and decided to abandon that batch of casted plantings since the potential roots were at risk of a failure to grow.

Measure of Visibility @ Dt Eleanor Gates-Stuart
Measure of Visibility @ Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart
Exchanging notes and documentation 
"Probably not enough compaction/watering when filling the head Also, the ‘little flies’ most likely were fungus gnats Common in potting mix when the composting process is not good. May need to drench the mixture with a chemical to control them..." 

However, as with most experiments, there is much to learn with problems and identifying the cause, since it is an opportunity to look at the facts and reinvent the next steps. It is all part of creativity and certainly a valuable asset in a collaborative partnership, working with a scientist and research organisation, an opportunity to pose questions that not only direct and possibly determine the results, but also help inform meaning when communicating the science to the public.

Examining the Fungus Gnats © Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart
Examining the Fungus Gnats © Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart

As always, the documentation also forms part of creating the artworks, as a failure in experimentation can add to creative inspiration, intrinsic in the workflow and production within practice-led research, especially as  evidence of process and visual notation.

'Head' section image with fungus gnat identified (small highlights dot) by Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart
‘Head’ section image with fungus gnats identified as small highlights dots by Dr Eleanor Gates-Stuart

The damage control is therefore, in this case, frustrating although it is also a means to advancing knowledge and adding a new dimension to the research path. In this research experiment it is all about the root system, informed by crop research and used within the forthcoming artworks. Please do contact me if you would like to know more about the research and / or interested in collaborative research.

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