The Microscope Project
Flinders University Art Museum & City Gallery, 26th July – 21st September, 2014.
Ian Gibbins, Catherine Truman, Deb Jones, Angela Valamanesh and Nicholas Folland, curated by Fiona Salmon and Madeline Reece.
For much of his time at Flinders University, Ian managed the main microscopy research facility, contained divers kinds of sophisticated microscopes. In 2012, several old scanning electron microscopes, some fluorescence microscopes, and other ancillary equipment were decommissioned. Once state-of-the-art, they were now largely dysfunctional and no longer practically operational. However, they had long histories of contributing to internationally-recognised research into the nervous and cardiovascular systems, the gut, and much more.
… and then there was all their supporting documentation: schematic diagrams and plans, manuals, advertising brochures, catalogues, certifications of performance, packing lists.
Although much of the equipment had been disassembled down to their component parts, it was all to valuable to be dumped for scrap. There were many more stories to be told about these instruments. Perhaps we could re-imagine their pasts, their futures, the people who had made them, maintained them, used them…
So, over more than 12 months, the artists collaborated with these elements in the unique shared environment of The Distillery to create The Microscope Project. As part of the project Ian wrote a series of texts that became the basis of the book, How Things Work, a unique collaboration between him, Catherine and Deb. Accompanying the book is a CD of Microscope Music composed using samples from the microscopes themselves and the various documents accompanying them. You can listen to Microscope Music here on Bandcamp.
After the completion of the project, two of the works, the Thesaurus of Reconstructive Microscopy and JEOL JSM-35, were installed and displayed for 12 months at the Flinders University Tonsley Campus. The Chandelier was acquired by Flinders University and installed in the main entrance to their new Student Hub. Here is a video about the Chandelier installation at Flinders: