to see is a video installation work that explores the ongoing research of Dr. Lydia Bright, and focuses on sub-cellular mechanisms and fine-scale evolution within eukaryotic cells. The images here are the microorganism Paramecium at a massive scale. Red and green fluorescence illuminates the membrane trafficking pathways inside each cell. The subtle movements and fluctuating, glowing colors of proteins are a documentary time-lapse passing through the body of each cell just before its death.
Searching and interpretation are at the heart of art and science alike. Microscopy extends the insignificant and shrinks the viewer, making the infinitesimal relatable, human-sized, even monolithic, and suddenly within reach. Cloth and mylar panels reference the shape, translucence, and implications of microscope slides, windows, and shrouds. The materials surrender to unpredictability and uncertainty. Scattered watery reflections activate surfaces, and subtle movements in fabric add depth to the apparition of each cell— so much larger than life, larger and more vivid in death and analysis.
Paramecium are small, single-celled eukaryotic organisms. They are found mostly in water, occasionally in soil, and sometimes even within human tissues. Though humble in scale, these tiny creatures are instrumental in helping scientists visualize and understand the sub-cellular mechanisms that are responsible for all life on this planet.
We know from research that all multicellular entities (including you and me) seem to have evolved from a common single-celled ancestor at least 1.7 billion years ago. What likely started as colonies of separate single-celled organisms, eventually led to specialization and cooperation among different structures and mechanisms in multiple cells. Over time, this collaborative specialization would facilitate the development of multi-cellular life.
Looking at subcellular mechanisms in the Paramecium genus provides a window into our deep past. This imaging also reveals the mechanisms of fine-scale evolution that help us to understand the similarities between nearly every multicellular living thing on this planet.