How do cells utilize their space, and how
similar is their purpose and practice related to Nature?
Cells are life. All living beings are
compromised of cells. Some of them are made with a single cell, while others billions.
There are 32.7 trillion cells in an average human body, and if we lined these
up, they could circle the world’s circumference 19 times. The cell derives from
Latin, meaning ‘small room’. It is the fundamental, structural and biological
unit of all known organisms. Cells are often called the ‘building blocks of
life’ and are the smallest units of life that can replicate autonomysly.
Cells can manipulate and multiply the space they
live in. There are a host of various cells, all with different functions and
purposes that work hard to maintain the health of the individual. The nucleous
cell controls growth, reproduction and metabolism. The mitochondria cell
produces energy for the cell. And the Endoplasmic Reticulum transports and
synthesizes proteins and carbohydrates.
can manipulate, shape and control the cells of any living organism, even
changing the function of the cells in the organisms. You are able to distribute
oxygen throughout the body, help cells heal and amend any type of wound or
ailment, and aid in the prevention of disease or infection. In spite of that,
cells can also be manipulated through mutations and mitosis. Some mutations can
push a cell in the pathway to becoming cancerous. Cancerous cells are
characterized by intractable cell growth. Cancer is detrimental when altered
cells disjoin wildly – forming lumps and tumours. It is easy to manipulate or
multiply the cells through antibiotics and medicines. Antibiotics help fight
infections and control the growth of bacteria. Yet surprisingly there are more bacterial
cells in our bodies than healthy ones, with 95% of all cells being bacterial.
Cells are life. Cells are nature. Without them
there would be no life. Cells are parallel to nature, especially in the way the
two work. Nature is Space. It is everything we see and inhabit. Nature is
constantly manipulating space in the same way cells in the body do. Mother
nature nurtures a seed until it blossoms into a magnificent oak tree. She does
this by producing cells to aid in its growth, and eventually, these cells
create vessels and a beautiful system to carry food and water to the tree. Just
as the human body does. The purpose of both nature and cells need balance and
harmony to support life. A tree or a plants biological system has to be in
working order to be able to live, yet on a grander scale, the whole ecosystem
of nature itself has to be in working harmony to truly flourish.
Ecosystems (nature) rely on energy to provide
life just as we rely on cells to provide the same. The whole ecosystem, both
living and non-living rely on eachother as this is vital for any life to succeed.
Producers like plants take light energy
and convert it into usable sugar energy, in a process called photosynthesis. As
animals consume the energy from plants, they are then eaten by other animals,
and ultimately decomposed back into the soil. The energy moves through the
ecosystem via a food web.
The human body is also an eco-system. The
practice of the ecosystem can be seen on a more minute scale within the human
body as there is reliance on a person’s own responsibilities in taking care of
their health and wellbeing.
If cells are life and we have become living
human beings because of cells, then we need to look at how our bodies share the
same ecosystem as Nature. The idea that the human body is an eco-system is
really a fundamentally different way to think about who we are as humans. The
human body carries trillions of bacteria cells and microbes. The human mouth
alone, carries 400 different types of bacterias. The human body eco-system is
defined as a coherent system of biophysical and social factors capable of
adaption and sustainability over time.
The human body consists of trillions of
organisms and the bacteria living, on and in us, make up our microbiome. Which consists of the components that create
an ecological community. The human microbiome teaches is that bacteria, fungi
and archae that live on and in us, outnumber our own cells ten to one. These
organisms help to digest food, program the immune system, prevent infection and
influence mood and behaviour. The bacterial species that reside in our bodies,
adapt to the habitat in which they exist in. And work to create an ecological balance.
Cells are constantly manipulating, multiplying
and nurturing the space in which they inhabit. If you fall and skin your knee,
cells will multiply in order to replace damaged cells and heal the injury. Just
like in nature, moss will multiply by forming a carpet, which has the ability
to retain water thus averting water loss amid dry periods. And can also be
helpful in lessening soil erosion. Cells in both the human body and nature can
be struck with disease. The diseased fungi harbours the energy of its inhibitor
in the same way a viral/bacterial infection strikes a human. The plant will
begin to wilt, scab, blotch or discolour, with the same behaviour happening in
a human being. Cells aren’t just restricted to humans and animals, they are
nature and they are life itself, so I thought that it was important to look
more deeply into this matter. As on this topic of space, nature is the space
all around us.
As I began to experiment and develop my chosen
theme, I looked into the physical similarities between our bodies and nature.
Through research I found that the lungs and bronchioles bore a striking
physical comparative to the branches of trees. I also found that the two have
the same system and purpose.
the lungs and trees begin with a central trachea or trunk, which divides into
progressively smaller branches. In trees, this then terminates in structures to
aid in gas exchange through the leaves creating oxygen. The same process
happens with the alveoli in humans- in many of the air sacs of the lungs.
physical similarities include the resemblance between meandering river patterns
and the cranial veins and cortex.
cracks in our skin and the veins in our hands are comparative to the structure
and pattern of leaves.
The similarities between the pattern and the way brain coral’s
form is a striking comparison to our own brains.
Our skin dries and cracks in the same way
earth/mud does. It also bares resemblance to tree bark cracks and the pattern
when the tree is cut in half.
These are just
some of the examples of the physical similarities between ourselves and nature.
Our eyes are like the colours of nebulas, our stretchmarks like sand dunes, our
goosebumps like raindrops. We are connected and binded to nature through our
parallel body process and the physical similarities. The space that we inhabit
is nature, and nature is us.
deeply I began to work on creating my final outcome. I decided to produce a
wall hanging that would show a physical representation of the inside of our
bodies. I chose to experiment with various pieces of textiles, mixed media,
string, layers and colours. I experimented with layers using tracing paper. The
idea behind this was becomes the human body has many many layers, and the
insides of our bodies are intricate and complex. I worked with glass paints and
acrylic paints to recreate cell patterns in an abstract way. Painting the cells
in an expressive way was a good way to display the momement and fluidity of the
cells. I worked with textiles, working into fabrics and manipulating them. I
felt that this was a great way to experiment with the different textures, forms
and patterns inside us. It was also a better way to experimental pieces that have
3d forms with dimension, just like we have inside us.
Ultimately, what I
emjoyed working with the most was pebeo fantasy paints. They are 3 different types
of paints and each hold different characteristics. The vitrail paint is a transparent
glass paint. The fantasy moon paint comes in pearlescent and opaque colours
that create a hammered / marbled effect. The fantasy prisme is a reactive paint
that creates a beautiful textured honeycomb effect. When either two or all
three are added together they create visually beautiful effects. I chose these
paints as I believed they were going to best help me achieve the patterns
colours and textures I was trying to achieve. They dry with a resin-like
appearance which I found very visually attractive as it tied in with the shininess
of cells and the human body parts.
When creating the
cells I delibaretely added more vitrail paint to some to create a transparent
layer. The transparent layer symbolised the fragility of our bodies and the importance
of the role that our cells play in keeping our mind and body strong and
healthy. Cells are nature too and the transparent layer can also symbolise the
fragility of our earth, and how our plants trees and greenery need to be treated
with care and protection in order to maintain our ecosystem and keep life in
harmony. Just like our bodies. The transparency was also a look on how we are
sometimes unaware of the importance of things like nature, our bodies, and
Cells are so microscopic and cant be seen by
the eye. They are so small and the importance is sometimes not acknowledged as
it should be. Just as sometimes when you isolate each part of the ecosystem you
do not appreciate the whole picture and see the importance of every small act. The
transparent layer can be a symbol that we need to appreciate the acts of life
that aren’t as ‘transparent’ and aren’t on the surface and how we need to step
back and take a deeper more meaningful look on life.
When working with
the paints I blended the 3 different types of paint with thought and plan. For
some I wanted there to be a more honeycomb effect -created by the fantasy
prisme paints. As I wanted the effects to be seen as if the viewer were looking
at the cells through a microscope, seeing all the various patterns and mitoses.
I created gold
rings around the cells as another symbol of how resilient and important they
are. It is metaphorical to how they keep us ‘whole’ and how they grant us life.
It is also metaphorical to the circle of life and work hard to maintain harmony
I chose to use a
frail-like fabric that had netting qualities to it. I dyed it using inks and
leaving them in a bath to soak. I dyed them in pinks/blue purple colours to tie
in with the colours of our insides. I chose this fabric as it was like a strong,
protective layer that surrounded the cells. Symbolic to the way our bodies have
been created to make sure that they are preserved and sheltered.
When chosing to
create the cells, I had to take into account, which surface I would prepare
them on. As they are glass paints and ceramic paints, using paper or cardboard
as a surface would have been unsuccessful as the paint would harden and It
would be impossible to pry off the surface. I chose to prepare them on a
plastic polly pocket sheet. I felt that it would be easy to peel from this
surface and it would also be beneficial as it is transparent and would help in
creating transparent layers in the paint. The paints need a horizontal surface
and take 24 hours to dry and I had some slight problems during this part of the
process. The paint would lift off from the plastic which would then move the
shapes and patterns I tried hard to create. This resulted in areas being ‘blurry’
as the paint would slope into any waves of the plastic that had lifted, and
erase any intricate patterns. Overall, I am happy with the outcome and feel
that overall look is represented in how I wanted to communicate.
There are many
variations to ‘Space’. Space can be shared, confined, busy, isolated,
manipulated, expanded. Space can be travelled through. Space can be so
significant yet unseen/unknown to the naked eye. It can be emotive in regards
to our personal space, our head space, space for us to be alone. Space can be a
mass that we can determine whether it be opened, closed, explored and yet the
space outside of ourselves, outside of earth and outside of our knowing, is so
unfamiliar and unknown.
There were many
different routes to go down when chosing a theme for this interesting topic but
I’m glad I chose to explore the topic of cells. It has been insightful and has
had lots of room for experiementing and exploring. I feel I achieved my goals
in this project and learned and understood a lot throughout this process.