Week 6: Montse & Jo
This last week I have been reflecting on how I can take this experience and share with others, especially my students. I have been thinking about how I could incorporate Cyanotypes into my laboratory class, but have come up with nothing concrete yet.
Last week, I went back to previous preliminary work I have done. In this work I used SwissDock (Link 1) to simulate the molecular interactions between bovine cytochrome c, (2B4Z1), a protein involved in the respiration process) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), one of the major components in tea). The program provides all of the possible interactions between these two molecules.
In the past, when I analyzed the modeling results, I was careful to pay close attention to the specific atoms that might be reacting/interacting with each other. Analyzing all of the outcomes provided by the program was a very challenging and overwhelming task, therefore I stopped the analysis.
This time, when I went back to look at the modeling results, I was a lot more interested in creating interesting shapes or graphics. This exercise was very useful, because I realized that before, I was trying to be very detailed and look at every atom’s interaction. As an Organic Chemist, I think that way; I am always thinking about the components of materials, pharmaceuticals, foods, plants, etc. However, when I opened my mind and allowed myself to play with the shapes and colors, I was able to identify some interactions I have not considered before, which made me realize that I was excluding a lot of important information, because I was trying to be too specific and detailed. This was a very important and useful experience for me, because it helped me to see that when I teach Organic Chemistry to my students, I have to be very careful that I teach them the big picture and not get lost in the details.
The first figure (Figure 1) shows the EGCG and heme molecules, using spheres that represent the atoms carbon (blue), hydrogen (white) and oxygen (red). The bovine cytochrome c (2B4Z) is represented gold, using the cartoon mode that shows the α-helices and β-sheets. Figure 2 shows the same, but it includes all of the atoms of cytochrome c. Figure 3 is the same as Figure 2, but the atoms in the protein are shown green and the ECGC and heme are shown gold.
The following figures were inspired by Jo’s work with stains, and it is the first one of that series (Figure 4 Stain 1). All of the atoms are shown black, the cartoon is shown yellow and Figure 6 shows the surface of the heme (oxidizing agent) and the EGCG (reducing agent).
Figure 5 shows the heme and EGCG sticks coloring the atoms; carbon (blue), hydrogen (white), oxygen (red), nitrogen (purple) and iron (pink). Figure 7 shows the heme (red) and EGCG (black) as dotted spheres and figure 8 shows the heme (light blue) and the EGCG (dark green) as spheres.
Additionally, Jo and I have been discussing logistics about setting up a SciArt exposition here at Kettering University.
I continue to feel in transition from one studio location to another as I prepare for my 5 week sojourn in Paris, another goal of my sabbatical. I will be there to investigate and photograph Marie Curie’s radioactive journals at the NbF.
However, this week I am still in my New York apartment although I did take the train on Sunday to Springfield MA to finish the publication of an artist book collaboration with poet Kim Bridgford (14 years in the making from concept to physical form). While there I came across a book on TEA that our designer, Greta Sibley, had produced in the 1980s after a residency in Korea. It was a moment of chance she had selected this book to show both of us how we might structure a colophon. When I noticed upon closing the book that it was called TEA, it started a discussion on the Bridge collaboration.
I have included photographs of that lovely book. In additional to its square minimal format, I was interested in how in the text Greta separated her reflections on that period of time into the separate elements of tea as well as the ceremonies in which she was involved, ie. water, bowls, seeds, blossoms.
Her quiet words and evocative photographs presented another aspect of this collaboration with Montse as we dually explore tea from our varying perspectives... the book added a sense of time, as in the tea ceremony one is asked to give up a separate existence and become one with the tea through breath, scent, heat, the cupping of the bowl, the color of the liquid, the quiet, the stillness. It is a vehicle to understand the nature of existence. If the tea, as such, needs to transition from the seeds and ensuing plants to the essence of a carefully prescribed brew, it is this journey seemingly parallel to our own, that is equally as important as understanding the scientific explanation of its molecular composition.
My time on Sunday ended with the discovery and purchase of a vintage book on molecular structures and how finding that book coincided with opening the package of lab paraphernalia Montse sent to me. Tools, leaves and brews to explore and experiments to undertake.
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