An Artistic representation of the sea

Résumé de la communication de Thomasine GIESECKE donnée à l’occasion du séminaire Les constructions en milieu marin / Constructions in marine environment du 14 au 19 mars 2016

The link between art and science can found in the observation of nature and an appreciation of its creativity. Many artists are inspired by nature’s infinite beauty and intelligence and scientists can help us to see and understand it.

As a sculptor working with glass, I was fascinated to learn that the diatom creates its miniscule body of natural glass. Jacques Livage’s description of the diatom during a seminar in Rennes in 2011 gave me an aesthetic shock and a lesson about an « easy way » to produce glass quickly, without any oven, and 100% made of silica.

These microorganisms, present everywhere in the oceans, lakes and rivers and can be found as fossils and as the base of many rock structures. For example, limestone formations are in effect gigantic marine cemeteries made of countless miniature skeletons accumulated over millions of years. They often include layers of chert made up of the siliceous skeletal fragments of diatoms, tiny glass structures with an extraordinary variety of shapes and designs.

The sculpture Daphnélia illuminates this mysterious and fascinating geological trace symbolizing the cycle of life and death linking living entities to our geology. The diatoms used in the sculpture are invisible without a microscope. Their shapes were reproduced at thousands of times their normal size and cut by laser from acrylic plates. These were then heat molded to form the lifesized body of a woman as a delicate lacework of diatoms. The sculpture Daphnélia was inspired by the destinies of two women: Daphne was a water nymph in Greek mythology whose extraordinary beauty attracted the attention of the god Apollo. To save her from Apollo, her father turned her into a laurel tree. Shakespeare’s Ophelia dissolves her life in the water when she hears about her father’s death.

The use of plastic in the piece refers to its increasing presence in our culture to the extent that it will soon replace diatoms as the underlying structure of our planet’s geology.


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