Brian Burnett
Reski Meets Lafayette
2013
Aluminum, acrylic, moss, chlorophyll, silicon
10"x 12"x 3"
The title combines two disparate references. The aluminum plates branded with the insignia ‘Lafayette Instrument Company’ signifies the latter. These Pencil Mazes, still in production today by (LIF), are conventionally used for learning and memory tests. “While blindfolded, an individual is required to trace through the maze from start to finish. An 8.5" x 11" sheet of blank paper fits between the maze and its frame so that a permanent record of performance is made. Test performance illustrates spatial memory processes and problem solving.”
The earlier segment of the title refers to the German scientist, Ralf Reski. Ironically, at the genetic level, his discovery of the moss Physcomitrella was proven to be more complex than the human genome project. The moss has been adopted as the model organism for basic biology, biotechnology, and synthetic biology worldwide. Moss has been enrolled as a “genome flagship” by the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, and believed by experts to contain information that will help us cope with major challenges occurring during global climate change. Expectations include improved crop yields, disease and insect resistance, drought tolerance, and more efficient biofuel production. One intriguing finding is that 13 per cent of the Physcomitrella genes have no clear relatives in any other sequenced organism so far. Reski says, "Analysing these orphan genes more deeply will reveal the hidden treasures of the moss genome. Although it seems annoying that mosses outperform humans greatly by gene number, it is exactly this feature that may secure our future.” For sculpture sake, the combination of a fundamental object with a complex subject defies any measurable proximity for 'problem solving' where boundaries do not exist.
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