Liquid Landscapes: Art In a Petri dish


To look at the images of Isreali artist J.D. Doria is to see a world of spiked abstractions and rich, otherworldly beautiful colors and intricate movements.

You might look at the above image and wonder just what it is you’re seeing—an alien landscape? The world of microorganisms? A CG-creation? All of the above? The patterns and forms are actually liquids shot in closeup swirling around in a glass container. They’re the work of Isreali artist J.D. Doria who describes his work as “painting as multitude” and his recent series The Petri Dish Project is, you might be able to guess, inspired by the Petri dish.

The Petri dish is usually associated with science, but which is now increasingly becoming a tool used in art. “It comes to replace the canvas and the paper” Doria says. “It is placed upon a light-table and above it, on a crane, a digital camera is positioned for high resolution close ups. Within the Petri dish I am “growing” images using different mélanges of liquid colors and materials.” These materials have different reactive properties and this, combined with the different colors, creates the interactions which Doria photographs the dynamics of to create his abstract images, which take inspiration from Jackson Pollock and his contemporaries.

After enhancing the images, Doria selects a set he likes choosing a circular photo to capture the initial stages, which is followed by a number of images which have been extracted from the process. In his other work, which similarly incorporates the process into the final piece, he utilizes a 3D scanner to augment his photography. Mixing acrylic, ink, glass colours, and water on paper he captures the process and movements of the materials with a suspended camera. Doria explains how he then feeds the captured images into the scanner and extroplates parts of them to turn into a single image creating a kind of mash up of the creative process. This way the process of the creation becomes part of the final piece, both becoming merged so you can’t distinguish which is which.

“At the end of the process, the work comes out as a multitude, a series of images that are both a plural form of the base state of the painting and also independent images of their own accord.” said Doria.

The Petri Dish Project

If small is beautiful. Then no where is that phrase more relevant than in the work of artist Linden Gledhill. Trained as a biochemist Gledhill is now a photographer who likes to take photos of the world in close-up. Like, real close-up. In a collaboration with art director Craig Ward he’s made a set of gorgeous microscopic visuals (above) set to music from Jon Hopkins’ forthcoming album Immunity, which is due for release June 3/4th on Domino Records. There will also be a record release show on June 4th at Grasslands Gallery, New York.

Gledhill’s microscope work includes experimenting with liquids and crystals to create abstract images, exposing the delicate beauty of butterflies’ wings using a macro lens, and exploring the individualism of snowflakes and their complex and intricate structures. Away from the microscope his high speed photography has seen him bounce paint off speakers and snap the frozen action of insects in flight.

For the Hopkins collaboration Gledhill created a series of 10,000 images of food dye which is in the process of crystallizing—enhanced by Hopkins’ tracks the crystals grow in sequence with the sounds, highlighting the synesthetic relationship between color and music. Working in his basement with a Canon 5D Mark II fitted onto an Olympus BH-2 research microscope, Gledhill captured the microcosmic images at a range of 200 to 1000x magnification.


For his latest album Immunity, electronic musician Jon Hopkins collaborated with biochemist turned artist Linden Gledhill and art director Craig Ward. Together Ward and Gledhill created a series of images for the album artwork which then grew to become a video, which was created in partnership with The Creators Project. The images and video were created using microscopic chemical reactions. Splashes and shards of crystalized color and foaming forms wash across the screen or appear frozen in an image. It’s a perfect fit to the sounds of Hopkins’ music and a chance for these types of biochemical reactions to aid the immersive experience of listening to an album.

For Craig Ward, working at a small scale has informed many of his previous projects and typographic work. “Fluid dynamics, inertia, combustion and particle simulations have all inspired and helped to create my often chaotic typographic explorations.” Ward says, adding: “For this project however, those tiny interactions make up the bulk of the imagery and the typography takes a back seat.”

“Jon’s music is organic and flowing, yet with a hard and rhythmic electronic edge.” Ward notes. “The idea of delving down to explore chemical interactions under a microscope felt like the perfect solve to create the album imagery and our video for The Creators Project features much of the same—various immiscible liquids, dyes and chemicals interacting underneath the watchful eye of my collaborator on the project, biochemist Linden Gledhill.”


About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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