Cell Membrane, 250x250cm, April 2019
Tension Fine Art, show from 13th April 2019. Text:
Much of what is on show here is too small to ever see in real life, since it measures less than the wavelength of light, thereby rendering it invisible. But we have evidence, plenty of it, that suggest what this invisible world must be like. It ranges from Lucretius’ writing in Roman times of the indestructible atoms he deduced must make up the world around us, to Rosalind Franklin and her X Ray diffraction image of DNA.
To these mental images we can add metaphors. Tension’s gallery has been turned into a cell for a month. We enter through a membrane of ping-pong balls, proceed to the DNA spiral with blackboard image, that celebrates the work of Rosalind Franklin, before arriving at the “cell graffiti wall”, where the DNA has recreated its signatures, gestures and writing, some little changed in a billion years, depicted here as chemical structures and punctuated with plastic bags. The bags represent the proteins that populate cells and keep everything ticking along nicely.
I have considered these cells as graffiti machines, since their own spaces are defined by these gestural sweeps, that we call proteins. From ancient Greek, (though probably coined in the 19th century), the term protein means “to stretch out” and it alludes to the extended line that coils and wraps around itself, before finally self-assembling into machines that crawl along fibres, pump substances, signal to each other and create copies of themselves.