Saturday, August 28, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Charlotte Potter

The biological process of cell division in which a parent cell splits into two identical daughter cells is called Mitosis. Highly regulated and complex, errors in mitosis kill or mutate cells causing disease such as cancer. However, if seen at a more fundamental level, mitosis is part of the study of fusion, of how an entity is created and how it propagates. It is the starting point for the paradigm of "relationships" at a cellular level.

Potter uses, in a reverse sort of way, the analogy of mitosis to explore the space of fusion, for that is where she believes relationships lie, be they human or with materials like glass. In
The Opposite of Mitosis, she enacts the coming together of two molten glass bubbles through a play of their shadows.

Devoid of extraneous contextual information, and relying only on their densities of black and white as filtered by light through a screen, two dark "pods" at the end of black sticks enter the frame. Slowly, they are filled with breath. They expand, touch each other and share a common membrane. In one instance, the contact point is minimal and the weight of the individual personalities preclude a wider contact area. In another, one bubble slips away, forming a cord-like connection, only to break off (as the glass behind the screen gets cold). A bubble pushes too much air into itself or grabs the second to overwhelm the other in size. At other times, the two bubbles meld in a balanced, reciprocal manner...

The very specific process of alternately blowing air into and then sucking air out from a hot glass bubble until it cools and will expand no more, has been used to determine the lifespan of each encounter. The ultra-thin membrane between the two bubbles is then blown back and forth until the bubbles break, sometimes like a steady dying heartbeat, and at other times, like a fish gasping and struggling for breath when placed out of water. The artist's attention to dynamics from several such interactions form the exact moments of interest in
The Opposite of Mitosis.

This visceral video of the shadow of two bubbles meeting and melding into one is installed in a petridish and set on a steel table. In an attempt to engage the psychological space of fusion, one that is neither always identical nor regulated as defined by mitosis - the installation references a clinical study of relationships, the emotions surrounding them - those seductive, volatile, unequal, entanglements - and the possibility of therapy.

The Opposite of Mitosis is one of several works that use glass as a membrane, a theme of perceptual shift that will be discussed later in the blog.

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