Elaine Whittaker CC: ME
A series of mixed media installations, wax paintings, fax carbon drawings, poetry, & live cultured halobacteria in petri dishes.
Cc: me (2012)
Cc: me is a mixed media installation of drawing, live bacteria, and sound. The body becomes a site for the infectious nature of language – nuanced, messaged, poetic, copied. Abstracted human figures, sketched using discarded carbon fax typographies, are presented as both wall drawings and insertions in petri dish installations teeming with live bacteria. These spent faxes, of once urgent environmental campaigns, are juxtaposed against crass viral commercial messaging, become shadowy iterations of the body, images of mutable histories, degraded texts, and transformative ecology. Four local poets, Julie Roorda, Jim Johnstone, Ruth Roach Pierson and Larry Sulky, and sound artist, Tom Auger, respond to the work. The poets’ words are, in turn, transformed into evocative tracings of wit, longing, memory, and life. Installations of word, sound and object. The textual, the aural and the visual. The carbon copy of yesterday becomes the transfigured art of today.
Materials and Process
The art work in Cc: me is based on two very diverse materials: bacteria and carbon. The carbon comes from a chemical mixture found on a collection of facsimile thermal transfer rolls, technological remnants of the rapidly disappearing world of the fax. I collected these rolls at the Toronto Environmental Alliance over a ten-year period. I reuse the rolls as drawing material and montage, transferring traces and fragments onto prepared wax boards, sheets of mylar, and inserting them into petri dishes.
Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 is a non-pathogenic bacterium that lives in a high salt environment such as the Dead Sea, the Bahamas, and the Great Salt Lake. The petri dish drawings of these pink coloured colonies were cultured in an incubator at 40 degrees centigrade for a week. Over the course of exhibit some will fade and die as their nutrient base of agar degrades and desiccates. Others will be captured, and their viability suspended, in the growing salt crystals.
On The Dedication to “That Single Individual" by Jim Johnstone
Afterlife.com by Julie Roorda
Memory by Ruth Roach Pearson
Risk Communication by Larry Sulky
On Cc:me sound composition by Tom Auger