Screened in Marineland

Tin Sheds, 2003

Philipa Veitch, Newborn, Production stills, Umatic recording finished on VHS of living microorganisms collected from various marine and freshwater sites around Sydney, filmed using a Zeis Axiomat microscope and 3chip video camera at “Protsville”, School of Biological Sciences / University of Sydney, exhibited in Marineland, 2003


In 2002 I was fortunate enough to enrol in what turned out to be the final ever course in Scientific Photography at the Sydney Institute of Technology. This amazing course combined lessons in basic use of the microsope, histology and microbiology, with the main emphasis placed on learning photomicroscopy techniques (taking photographs of microscopic specimens using microscopes with special attachments for (35mm) cameras), as taught by the highly dedicated Malcolm Ricketts. My longstanding, but thus far academic interest in this field was finally given an outlet.

It was during this period that I stumbled upon “Microcosmos” by the eminent Biologist Lynn Margulis and her son Dorion Sagan, a book which was to have a tremendous impact on my view of the world and my work as an artist. The exhibitions Nip the Bud, Low Life, Marineland, Easy Journey to Other Planets and Glaciology all developed in varying degrees out of my fascination with her highly evocative descriptions of the formation of the Earth and groundbreaking hypothesis concerning the origins of multicellular life.

Both the course and the Margulis book led me to undertake a great deal of research into areas such as astrobiology, extremophiles, astronomy and early human development, and led me to work with scientists including Sue Lindsay at the Australian Museum and Prof. David (Paddy) Patterson and Shauna Murray at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, where I commenced a degree in Marine Science. Sue Lindsay helped me to prepare and “photograph” specimens using the scanning electron microscope at the Australian Museum, while David Patterson very generously trained and gave me the use of the microscopes and editing facilities at his “Protsville” Protist Research Laboratory, where he had previously fitted two of his microscopes with 3 chip video cameras. It was during this six month period in 2003 (while pregnant with my first child) that I filmed many many hours of living microorganisms, collected during field trips to various marine and freshwater sites around Sydney. This footage was eventually edited and incorporated into the installation “Newborn” in the exhibition Marineland.

Philipa Veitch


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