PaperLillies are drawings on paper made with Spirulina and black ink.
After having experimented for years the design and fabrication of photobioreactors to grow algae into architectural environments, I realised that the most common question we received is: “What do you do with the biomass?”. Of course, if we cultivate Spirulina, the obvious answer is “Food”, or better, “Super-food”. But actually, there are many other more creative potentials. So I took some of the algal mud harvested from our studio prototypes and used it to create drawings: the PaperLillies.
Variations in the algal concentration and in the amounts of water create a variety of vegetal inks with different effects. The green color comes from the algal cells. More algae in the solution creates darker and thicker color, similar to acrylic paint. More water creates transparency and becomes similar to watercolours. Eventually, the final result depends on three factors: concentration of algae, liquidity of the solution, and paper absorption.
Around the algae, a cloud of black ink dots create populations of human created environments, sort of human colonies.
These drawings are a reflection on time and space.
Time: the algal ink is potentially the oldest pigment existing on Earth. It appeared 3.5 billions years ago, and contrasts with the human made black ink that dates only a few thousands years, since the appearance of our species. It’s a clash of different times that address the precariousness of human presence on the planet.
Space: every square centimeter of algal solution contains thousands of cells. Every square centimeter of black ink dots contains tens of dots. The space is very small, but the amounts are huge. Specially the amounts of algae that overcome human made dots by a factor of hundreds.
PaperLillies are organised in series: Drops, Spots, Sponged, Sponged Lines, Sponged Circles and Inventions.
PaperLilly Drops (2019, 15x21cm)
One or more drops of very liquid and medium concentrated algae solution is absorbed by paper to become a round spot, colonised by black dots in its neighbourhood creating a sort of density fading.
PaperLilly Spots (2019, 15x21cm)
Drops of very liquid algal solution fall from higher altitudes splash on paper creating a variegated shape, colonised by black dots like an archipelago.
PaperLilly Sponged (2019, 15x21cm)
Pretty thick and dense algal solution, similar to mud, is layed on paper using a natural sponge creating a variegated shape, colonised by black dots like an archipelago.
PaperLilly Sponged Lines (2019, 60x84cm)
Pretty thick and dense algal solution, similar to mud, is layed on paper using a natural sponge in the shape of variegated lines, colonised by black dots like an archipelago.
PaperLilly Sponged Circles (2019, 60x84cm)
Pretty thick and dense algal solution, similar to mud, is layed on paper using a natural sponge in the shape of variegated circles, colonised by black dots like an archipelago.
PaperLilly Inventions (2019, 15x21cm)
Black dots are organised on paper in a way to create images of human inventions that contributed in shaping humanity as we know it today. A single drop of algal solution lays on paper stating its presence on Earth since much longer than ours.