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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.