Communications with Jo have been very stimulating. Unlike Jo, this is the first time I have had a serious collaboration with an artist. It has been good to learn that we have a lot of common interests, but the way we look at things is very different. I was very interested and fascinated with Jo’s experimentation with tea. Her approach was very systematic, just like a scientist setting up an experiment. However, the way she physically set up the space was intriguing and visually pleasing; it was clear that she takes into consideration the arrangement of her set up according to the space. She used seven different teas that contained black tea leaves or green tea leaves (Figure 1. Tea processing).
When I look at the way I approach my experiments, I look at things at a micro and atomic level, (see link 2 and 3 for reference in scale). I look at the molecules present in the tea. For example, black tea leaves are darker in color because the chemicals present in the leaves are allowed to be oxidized. Additionally, when my group studies tea components, we are interested in the chemicals that are consumed by humans, such as epicatechin and epigallocatechin gallate EGCG (Figures 2-4), not the chemicals in the “residual bag” which usually goes into the trash. But instead, Jo used the tea bag to leave an imprint on the paper (made of cellulose, a polysaccharide composed of glucose repeating units (Figure 5-7). This made me think about the residual solid and what chemicals might be present in that solid. The transfer of chemicals from a solid media to paper using a liquid carrier is called paper chromatography, and we use a variety of liquids including water, alcohol and acetone as carriers as well. This process is very similar to Jo’s setup; therefore, it might be interesting if Jo were to use rubbing alcohol or acetone (different chemical properties) as a different medium to release other types of molecules into the paper (different molecules with different colors such as epitheaflavic acid 3’monogallate (Figure 8-10) and theflavic acid 3’ monogallate)1-3. Another topic that Jo used was systematic pattering. In organic chemistry, systematic pattering is also used to categorize chemicals according to their properties or structure. In my research this is very important because we look at how the changes in the structure affect the chemical properties of flavonoids (I will share a picture in the future, because we are writing a paper about this). After transferring the tea color into the paper, Jo added beeswax (Figures 11-14 show two chemicals that are commonly found in beeswax) to increase transparency. This was interesting to me, and is an area that I would want to further explore with Jo, and possibly do some measurements and experiments in my lab in the future.
Links, figures and references:
The atoms in all molecule figures are color coded: Carbon atoms (blue), Oxygen atoms (red) and Hydrogen atoms (white).
Link 1 https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/02/01/polyphenols-antioxidants-the-chemistry-of-tea/
Link 2 Scale reference. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/cosmology-and-astronomy/universe-scale-topic/scale-earth-galaxy-tutorial/v/scale-of-the-small
Link 3 Scale reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=HiN6Ag5-DrU
1. Degenhardt, A.; Engelhardt, U. H.; Wendt, A.-S.; Winterhalter, P., Isolation of black tea pigments using high-speed countercurrent chromatography and studies on properties of black tea polymers. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2000, 48 (11), 5200-5205.
2. Kim, Y.; Goodner, K. L.; Park, J.-D.; Choi, J.; Talcott, S. T., Changes in antioxidant phytochemicals and volatile composition of Camellia sinensis by oxidation during tea fermentation. Food Chemistry 2011, 129 (4), 1331-1342.
3. TANAKA, T.; KOUNO, I., Oxidation of tea catechins: chemical structures and reaction mechanism. Food Science and Technology Research 2003, 9 (2), 128-133.
As mentioned in my last blog entry for Bridge (evidence of a first, very enthusiastic foray into the blogdom world), I continue to be inspired by the premise of Monste’s work with teas, toxins and catechins. In that initial blog text, I noted key words that arose during the September 5th Skype conversation such as color, stains, molecular structures, sequential patterning, data and its codification, microscope slides and light.
Using those words as framework, I have spent the last two weeks, through intuitive, object/process-based approaches, setting up and responding to “experiments”. Materials used have varied from the evolving residue of 7 steeped tea bags (from our shared kitchen cabinet), various papers, heated beeswax and Cyanotype photograms using glass objects from a local on-site glassmaker.
My language is visual, so the following singular images and exploratory “pop-up” installations sited in various architectural structures at the Anderson Center complex are a chronological record of what has transpired. It is a journal of an analytical approach that is of my own making. What is arising through this process is the conceptual/metaphoric weight of the word “stain”.
In our second Skype interview, I will be interested in discussing how my direction might inter-relate to Montse’s focus. I am curious about the many different levels on which this type of virtual collaboration might work. What I do find different from other collaborations is that in this one we are not sharing physical spaces, the deepening aspect of visual, non-verbal clues as we walk through those places (my studio/her laboratory) and the energy of one to one personal engagement.
As a side note, I also have been following the Science Friday Podcast, a recent one was “When Plants Sense Danger, They Cry Out with Calcium”... metaphors abound!