Mercurial (Fog Inquiry: Wandering Seminar)

Join the Futurefarmers for the fourth gathering for Fog Inquiry: Wandering Seminar:

Tuesday, February 25

Peter Weiss, Associate Researcher, Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology Lecturer, Chemistry & Biochemistry, UC Santa Cruz
Tristan Duke, Artist, Photographer, Holographer, Infinity Light Science, Los Angeles
Guest: Ken Kellman, The Kenneth S. Norris Center, UC Santa Cruz

For MERCURIAL, the gathering will begin at 11 a.m. at the Health Center Bus Stop before wandering to the Norris Center for Natural History.

The Mercurial brings chemist Peter Weiss and photographer, Tristan Duke into dialogue and practice through their work with the elusive element of Mercury. This shape-shifting element has been used to make mirror’s, photographic plates, extract gold from ore, and availed swift rotation of mirrors in lighthouses. The Mercurial wanders through the materiality and lifecycle of this element. Drawing from Peter’s work with traces of monomethylmercury (MMHg) found in coastal marine atmospheric fog, we examine the indexes of mercury accumulation in the environment, including lichens, mountain lion whiskers, and hairs from the legs of tiger spiders. Exercising Tristan’s experiments with mercury-based Lippmann photography, we seek to capture an image indexical of mercury - a portrait of its traces in the environment.

Peter Weiss's research interests include the global biogeochemical cycle of mercury, sulfur, and nitrogen; sea-air transfer of methylated mercury and impacts on coastal marine fog; mercury bioaccumulation in coastal terrestrial food webs; marine boundary layer and free troposphere meteorology; pollution source-receptor model validation using measurements; working with large data sets; and environmental toxicology and justice.  

Tristan Duke has been working to reinvent Lippmann plate photography, a 19th century imaging technology that employs mercury as an optical element to record in full vibrancy, and without pigments, the true colors of life (is this not a kind of immortality?). This technique, seldom practiced since the turn of the 20th century, records colors in the same way that color is created in soap bubbles or on the surface of oil on water. Much of Tristan’s work centers on questions of indexicality and the materiality of image.Tristan is a co-founder of the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, Fellow at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and Artist in Residence, Exploratorium.

Ken Kellman is a lichen and bryologist expert who will open your eyes to the small-scale wonders of these amazing life-forms. Ken is an instructor at the Jepson Herbarium, an active member in the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria and and contributed lichen samples to Peter Weiss during this research and development of the paper: Marine fog inputs appear to increase methylmercury bioaccumulation in a coastal terrestrial food web.







Tuesday, February 25, 2020