Salt and Agar

This semester Beng has been researching the growth of salt crystals on different materials.

…”With a saturated solution of water created by adding sea salt to water, I keep adding salt till the liquid becomes saturated and put different materials I used metal and wood into it. The crystals start to grow naturally in the solution and as the water evaporates the crystal growth increases.”

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Even the container that was holding the salt water was transformed by the crystals. The crystals even began growing over the edge of the pan where I put the salt water in. Because of the small pathways in between the crystals capillary effect can take place. This results in the water travelling up over the edge of the container. This in turns makes the crystals grow in places where the water flows and deposits the salt.

The most interesting reaction for me was the oxidization of a metal rod that I had put into the solution. The rust that was created due to the oxidization was changing the colors of the crystals. This interplay between the two materials. The reaction upon another I found very interesting. I wanted to see how I could this better.



The problem for me was that making the crystals grow there is a need for a container to put the salt water into. Afterwards placing materials inside the container of the solution to make salt grow onto it. This giving an interesting end product ones the materials have formed. But the container for keeping the saturated water seems to distract from what was really going on. The process what was interested me the most. The transformation of the object that was put inside the solution being taken over by the crystals. To make a clear image of the process I wanted to cut away everything that distracted from the creation of the crystals.

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For showcasing the reaction I wanted just the two materials. The saturated salt water and the metal. But the problem was how to create a container for the salt water without using a container. The solution was in a substance that I have used in sketching methods and the bio art living art research group. Agar a gelling agent used in cooking to jellify liquids. Agar is derived from the polysaccharide agarose, which forms the supporting structure in the cell walls of certain species of algae, and which is released on boiling. These algae are known as agarophytes and belong to the Rhodophyta (red algae) phylum. Adding the agar to the salt water solution created a gel with the same properties as the liquid but without the container.

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With this jellified solution in began to try and find out if I could sculpt with it. I made a test for the gel combining it with a metal rod in a small container. The interesting thing was that when the metal started to rust, the color of the rust went into the agar. Creating swirls of orange color in the gel.



I wanted to see if it was possible to create this reaction on a bigger scale by making a sculpture on a bigger scale with the same ingredients. I made a cast that I filled with agar and suspended a metal rod within. Unfortunately for some reason the color was not visible within the sculpture. I still don’t know precisely why. I still presented my experiment at an exhibition held by KABK students at the Maagdenhuis in Amsterdam that was occupied by the students of UVA.

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Because of the increase in size the agar became cloudy, I wanted to remedy this by making my next work with the gel on a 2D plane. I made a new batch of Agar but this time poured it out on a metal plate. This making the layer of gel thinner. In this way I wanted the process of transformation to become clearer.
Over time the metal plate oxidized because of the moisture in the gel. Changing the appearance of the Agar. You can clearly see the rust changing the color of the agar and where the layer of agar is thin the salt crystals are already starting to form. After 2 weeks you can clearly see the salt crystals starting to form more and more and changing color because of the rust being deposited on the crystals by the plate.
At this stage I am trying to make series of my last experiment trying different thicknesses ratios of the gel and the salt water. I find the interaction of the two materials very interesting and want to develop different ways to combine the metal and gel together. My next goal besides the series of metal plates is redoing the sculpture with different ratios of agar gel and metal.

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PDF complete research document Beng Agar and Salt


tactile poem

Nanda Milbreta / Tactile Research Lab, Semester 2
For my second, and eventually third presentation I was making Tactile Poems.
First I presented 4 Tactile Poems. Each of them were meant for one specific body part. I was creating these poems with the theme ‘Pleasure’ in my mind.

I finished this lab with Poem #5 ‘The Pleasure Sweater’
Some people dream of having wings and being able to fly. But all I would like to have is a long tale, like a cat.

I decided to create a garment that can be felt on various body parts.
By selecting a number of soft and fluffy materials, I designed a wearable that is at the same time pleasant for the wearer as for those who touch the person wearing it. There’s no such thing as too much love and too many hugs.

I’ve added some photos and a link to the video, where ladies’ reaction is quite clear:)

peronal/universal smell memories

Nanda Milbreta / Tactile Research Lab Semester 2

Personal  / Universal

Lila and I, we got an assignment to make a work that involves the ‘lower senses’ – smell, taste or touch. The most important rule was that we were not allowed to plan anything.
We both decided to work with smell.

At first the rule ’no planning’ seemed very challenging to me. But then I realised that the past can not be planned. That’s how the idea to use my diaries came about.
When thinking of smell in relation to memories, there is one specific smell that always brings back me to one particular event. I decided to read my diaries from that time.

Personal / Universal is an audio piece accompanied with a photo, a book and  8 smell samples (nail polish, candle wax, burned match, burned hair, burned paper, cigarette butt, pencil, ball-point pen).





a performance for 5 men

During the second semester Senida Kalender got the group assignment to direct a performance for 5 men.
…”I started with drawing people on paper to see how I would make the composition but realized quite early that this wasn’t the way to make a performance. So I started to
focus on the sound I wanted to use instead of the visual aspect of it. While brainstorming I was listening to spoken poetry and wanted to record this. My ticking clock distracted me, this would ruin my recordings so I took my clock and placed it under a pillow so I couldn’t hear it anymore. This was the moment where I realized I wanted to use the ticking clock as a poetic feature of the performance. I recorded words from the poetry I was listening and added a ticking clock to it. During the very first rehearsal I had no idea what the performers should actually do so I played the sound and told them they could do anything they want. Anything that popped up in their mind, they could act it out.”

senida a performance for 5 man

a performance for 5 man

…”We added during one rehearsal wooden sticks and in another performance chairs. It is very interesting to see how objects can make a group of performers interact with each other. You see solutions, imagination and collaboration while performing. I wanted to keep the surprising element, which is also the reason why I chose not to direct a fixed piece. But somehow the performance needed some structure. After some rehearsing we came up with queues. The performers give each other words and they all have to act this out. For example: One performer yells ‘Run!’ and all the performers have to run until the next performer comes up with a different queue. These queues weren’t fixed, I tried it once with a fixed order and gave them words they could use but then the surprising and spontaneous elements disappear. The performers decide at the moment their very own word and every other performer interprets this on their own way so the performance still remains very surprising and at the same time very amusing to watch.”

PDF full documentation of Senida Kalender: 5 men performance

Duckweed sheets

Lila Bobrowicz: “Going around the built areas and forests of Den Haag, I noticed the Duckweed growing in any water reservoir. Not knowing what this green sheet is and why it’s there, I was fascinated by the uniform surface it created, the bright color and its story. Previously I learned about the phenomena of invasive species which are introduced to an eco system which is not theirs and many times take over. Often they are over abundant and react to human activity. If they successfully live in a system, they often make use of the resources and impact the native plants and animals. When thinking about a medium to work with, I was curious to work with one that in the process of collecting it I don’t harm and perhaps even contribute to the functionality of the system. Without knowing their real story, the duckweed seemed abundant.”

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After some research, I couldn’t confirm that the Duckweed is invasive. None the less, if I large quantities it limit life under it by preventing light and oxygen to penetrate through the water surface. In my first contact with it, I discovered the mysterious uniform matt is assembled from tiny plants with thin stems. Apparently, it is one of the smallest flowering plant in the world.
I wanted play around and research about the duckweed as well as to create a matt out of it that will keep intact. To do that, I collected Duckweed in different locations and investigated different mixtures to glue the duckweed together.

My first mixtures were based on homemade glue recipes, most based on these ingredients:
Flour, Water, Sugar, Vinegar.

The mixtures had a white color and took time to dry. To speed the process, I placed the duckweed with the different mixtures in the oven. Later I continued with the oven, mixing the Duckweed with Arabic Gun and wax. Each ingredient created different flexibility levels, color and thickness

The homemade glue mixtures had to spend more time in the oven to become less liquid, depending on the thickness of the mixture. While going through a baking process, the Duckweed inevitably got browner, drier and sometimes shrunk in size. In order to keep the Duckweed as fresh as possible, I placed a plate with a homemade glue mixture and Duckweed next to a sunny window. After about 2-3 weeks, the sheet had dried. Unlike the baked mixture, the liquid maintained its yellow-white color with the Duckweed embedded in it. Looking closely, the patterns, details and gestures of the Duckweed became visible and were gently preserved by the liquid. The sheet however was un flexible and very delicate.
The wax melted fast once in the oven and when put outside it hardened fast as well. That way, the Duckweed kept its fresh green color since it did not spend much time in the oven and was not really baked. In terms of its flexibility, the wax sheet was un-flexible and would break when folded.

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In order to keep the Duckweed as fresh as possible, I placed a plate with a homemade glue mixture and Duckweed next to a sunny window. After about 2-3 weeks, the sheet had dried. Unlike the baked mixture, the liquid maintained its yellow-white color with the Duckweed embedded in it. Looking closely, the patterns, details and gestures of the Duckweed became visible and were gently preserved by the liquid. The sheet however was un flexible and very delicate.

Later I wanted to minimize the adding of other ingredients. I decided to use white glue since it sticks faster and becomes almost transparent when it dries. This time I used Duckweed I collected from the school’s courtyard which was bigger in size and seems to have more abundant stems. The stems got intertwined with one another and so when I spread them out to create a sheet I tried to maintain their natural fabric. I spread minimal amounts of the glue on both sides of the sheet and let it dry for a few days. The resulted sheet kept most of the characteristics of the Duckweed while still remaining a surface in tacked.

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whole documentation by Lila Bobrowitcz:  Duckweed

Fluid compostions

Anna Zelinkova,  started to experiment with a few kinds of plastics and slime materials….” I was interested about changing of their characteristic conditions. The changing conditions of starch substance I found very interesting, so I started to be more focused on this type of substance.
The character of starch mixture with water is changing depends of outside conditions – when it is under a pressure it gets start to be hard and crumbly, but when is material in peace position it behaves as a liquid (typical for non-Newtonian fluids). But I figured out that the same conditions has a puding powder (cause theres a corn starch) but it has also very specific smell and colour. This gave me an idea try to hack the starch substance and to find my ideal recipe for it.
I figured out, that substance becomes dry fast so I add some glycerine inside which helped hold humidity longer but also made viscosity character better. Another problem of substance was that too much of it stays on fingers so I tried to add sunflower oil inside. Theres still some pieces of material staying on fingers but its much better then before. I also made some experiments with colours and smells.”

After finding this nice weird substance I was thinking about how to compose it into artpiece. I wanted to make it playfull and funny. Nowadays I am experimenting with electricity audio cycles. So I tried to connect the substance project with cycle I just made and it worked very well – substance is also great conductor. This gave another condition to my material – sound. Its working on principe of back loop in cycle with using capacitors. I was searching for ideal construction of cycle with my emulsion and human. The image of musical instrument came very fast and it fullfilled mine notion of funny and playfull way of using substance. I figured out that very good for instrument construction is to use one hand for holding bowl together with solution and anode and with another hand play with emulsion with cathode fitted inside.
This can offer experience for sences and pleasure  of touching weird stuff. I also tried experiment with cathode placed in my mouth which can add another experience of taste.
The nowadays construction wiev of whole musical instrument is still in developing and there are some ideas how it could looks. Finally I tried if I can use just water from sink and also worked very well. But with these emulsion is much more fun! Iam still searching for musical instrument name….

Fluid composition: Starch, Pudding powder, Water, Glycerin, Oil, Colour, Fragrance