Dmitry GELFAND & Evelina DOMNITCH
Hosted by: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Dmitry Gelfand (b.1974, St. Petersburg, Russia) and Evelina Domnitch (b. 1972, Minsk, Belarus) create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices. Current findings, particularly regarding wave phenomena, are employed by the artists to investigate questions of perception and perpetuity. Such investigations are salient because the scientific picture of the world, which serves as the basis for contemporary thought, still cannot encompass the unrecordable workings of consciousness.
Having dismissed the use of recording and fixative media, Domnitch and Gelfand's installations exist as ever-transforming phenomena offered for observation. Because these rarely seen phenomena take place directly in front of the observer without being intermediated, they often serve to vastly extend the observer's sensory envelope. The immediacy of this experience allows the observer to transcend the illusory distinction between scientific discovery and perceptual expansion.
During our twenty years of collaboration with scientific researchers, we have converged on such topics as hydrodynamics, the origins of life, and the foundations of scientific inquiry.
Developed in association with the Laboratoire d’Hydrodynamique (École Polytechnique), Hui Lab for Molecular Engineering (University of California, Irvine), and the Huck Group for Physico-Organic Chemistry (Radboud University), the artwork Luminiferous Drift envisions the ocean currents of a hypothetical planet punctiliously traced by bioluminescent protocells. By means of a microfluidic chip, an enzyme-regulated chemiluminescent solution is injected into a vegetable oil membrane. The resultant double-emulsion protocells are released into a rotating bath of water that recreates the dynamics of a polar vortex. Evoking the fragile balance of Earth’s aqueous ecosystems,Luminiferous Drift addresses the EU goals of “Clean Water and Sanitation”, Climate Action as well as “Life Below Water”. The artwork contemplates the role of one of our planet’s primary eco-synthesizers, phytoplankton, who metabolize sunlight into over half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide into organic compounds that fuel the whole food chain. At night, their residual energy is emitted as bioluminescence – for still unknown reasons that have bewildered such varied minds as Aristotle, Newton and Darwin. This complex biochemical behaviour emerges through the interaction of the cellular membrane with the surrounding flow of water. Though barely visible when emitted by an individual organism, collectively, their glow can be seen all the way from Earth’s orbit as it illuminates the seas and oceans.
Hydrogeny is another artwork of ours relating to the EU water goals, combined with the goal of “Affordable and Clean Energy”.Emanating from an array of electrodes at the bottom of a water-filled chamber, laser-lit strings and strata of hydrogen bubbles slowly rise to the surface. This installation creates conditions for observing nature’s simplest atom and the mother of all matter, hydrogen – which also fuels the stars and interlaces the molecules of their biological descendants. Electrolytically derived hydrogen is now becoming an optimal means of clean and affordable energy – based on filtered water.
Developed at VU University Amsterdam, our ongoing art and citizen-science endeavor, Aerobiome, reflects the goals of “Climate Action”, “Life on Land”, as well as “Sustainable Cities and Communities” and “Good Health and Well-Being”. Aerobiome participants are prompted to collect air samples from a variety of indoor and outdoor environments, after which they are displayed in laser-illuminated ion traps and incubators. Although it has been well established that the biogenic content of the air we breathe is the primary interface for life-sustaining geochemical cycles as well as life-threatening toxins and diseases, aerial ecosystems remain “the last frontiers of biological exploration on Earth”. [T. Henderson, H. Salem, The Atmosphere: Its Developmental History and Contributions to Microbial Evolution and Habitat, The Royal Society of Chemistry 2016] One cubic meter of air contains hundreds of thousands of microorganisms, whose life cycles, migrations and interdependence are barely known. The main reason for this blind spot is a lack of collaboration between atmospheric scientists, geochemists, biologists, medical researchers and environmental policy makers. This is further exacerbated by the lack of transparency and overwhelming political, social and even scientific influence of the severely polluting energy and industrial sectors. “Air pollution is a major public health crisis, with many of its root causes and cures to be found in the energy sector.” [Air Pollution and Energy, World Energy Special Report 2016]
In collaboration with the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (Groningen University), PIN (Physics of Interfaces and Nanomaterials, Twente University) and the Advanced Soft Matter Department of TU Delft, we are currently developing an artwork exploring light-induced vortices in liquids. However fundamental and enduringly investigated, the interaction between light and liquid matter continues to harbour a plethora of unforeseen and often mind-blowing phenomena – among which are also powerful potentialities for environmental applications. One such example involves ultraviolet sunlight causing metal compounds to shed electrons in plastic-laden water. Unlike heat, chemicals or physical force, to which the ubiquitous PFASplastics are impervious, excess electrons are able to shatter the carbon-fluorine bond of PFAS in water. Such a technique could also be used to break down accumulated PFAS deposits in the human body. Intrinsically, this project corresponds to the EU goals of “Clean Water and Sanitation”, “Life Below Water” as well as “Good Health and Wellbeing”.
#IMMERSIVEENVIRONMENTS #INSTALLATION #PERFORMANCE
- Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being
- Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Goal 13: Climate Action
- Goal 14: Life Below Water
- Goal 15: Life on Land