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Explore a Terraformed Micro World in ‘Ecosynthesis’

Multimedia artist Philip Klawitter returns with a new orbital video of a micro planet with its own thriving ecosystem of moss, larvae, and spiders.
Images courtesy the artist

Santiago, Chile-based multimedia artist Philip Klawitter is a maker of micro worlds, a terraformer on the super-small scale. Last year he used macro photography to film a planet made of fungus. For his latest project, Ecosynthesis, part of his Microinfinito series of works, Klawitter uses similar techniques to create a looped video of an orbital trip around a planet where micro organisms thrive. Klawitter was inspired to make Ecosynthesis in part because of the land art movement, which creates large scale artworks out of earth, making them prone to changes like erosion.


“I decided to create these micro planets using nature, exposing the piece to humidity to let it grow,” Klawitter tells The Creators Project. “That led me to the oriental concept of the wabi sabi: the beauty of the impermanent, imperfect, unfinished.”

Ecosynthesis uses the hermetic phrase 'As above, so below; as below, so above,” as a conceptual launchpad in that a micro planet creates parallels to a planet like Earth. Like all of his artworks, Ecosynthesis is deeply influenced by the interstellar scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The microorganisms in Ecosynthesis were specifically inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in which alien overlords look at the human species as simple lifeforms.

Ecosynthesis from philip klawitter on Vimeo.

To create the micro world of Ecosynthesis, Klawitter teamed up with a team of microbiologists called Biotic Solutions. To make the planet’s surface ideal for different species growth, they ended up using a mixture of agar (a jelly-like substance obtained from algae), common dirt, and a solution to regulate the world’s pH, as the moss needs acidity to grow.

“Using a fish tank as a greenhouse and a system to control the humidity and light, I made the goldilocks zone for moss and some microorganisms so life thrives in this 40mm world,” Klawitter explains. “In the video microorganisms are living and moving on the surface of the planets, [feeding] off the moss and algaes. The white ones you see crawling around are mosquito larvae, and the moss you see growing is a kind that grows in my area of Chile called Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum. Also, some spiders feed on the smaller insects.”


To film Ecosynthesis, Klawitter built an Arduino microcontroller movement rig for his Sony a7S to create a hybrid of stop-motion and timelapse photography. In all, he took four hi-resolution stacked photos at different time intervals to capture the timelapse in a macro space. Each of the four images were made using 30 images with a different focal distance to maximize the depth of field.

Klawitter plans to exhibit the Ecosynthesis installation as a diptych, with giclée prints of the four images accompanied by the video in a seamless loop. The work will be shown at Espacio O gallery in Santiago, Chile in April 2016.

Ecosynthesis microscopy system. from philip klawitter on Vimeo.

Click here to see more work by Philip Klawitter.


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