Laura Splan, from the series Doilies, 2004 (source)
“Doilies is a series of computerized machine embroidered doilies. The design of each doily is based on a different viral structure [SARS, HIV, Herpes virus, Influenza virus, and Hepadna/Hepatitis B virus, respectively]. The lace doily has traditionally referenced designs and motifs from nature. Furthermore, these decorative objects would be heirlooms, handed down from one generation to the next. The work explores the “domestication” of microbial and biomedical imagery. Many recent events, epidemics, and commercial products have brought this imagery into our living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Bio-terrorism, SARS, and antibacterial soaps alike have all heightened our awareness of the microbial world. Doilies serve as a metaphor for the way we have adapted our everyday lives to these now everyday concerns. Here domestic artifacts and heirlooms manifest the psychological heredity of our cultural anxieties.”
Geeking out so hard over here…
This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows caffeine crystals. Caffeine is a bitter, crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. In plants, caffeine functions as a defence mechanism. Found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves and fruit of some plants, caffeine acts as a natural pesticide that paralyses and kills certain insects feeding on the plant. The main crystals of caffeine were 400-500 microns long; however, this crystal group formed on the end of the larger crystal and measures around 40 microns in length.”
Never knew this! Love the hi-res photo.
Ever catch butterflies when you were little and get a sort of powder on your hands after handling them? That powder is actually a lot of very fine and tiny scales from the butterfly’s wings. Butterflies (and moths) are Lepidopterans, which literally translates to “scale winged.” This is a high power shot of a butterfly wing, clearly showing the distinctions between individual scales. These scales are similar to fish scales and are essential for the regulation of body temperature by absorbing or reflecting light (depending on the angle of the light) as well as protection from environmental and predatory factors.