Drawing Machines: Morphogenesis, A Simulation of Coral Growth Potential 

This work is an unconventional representation of a scientific coral morphogenesis model. The coral is made of various tissue paper; I drew designs on some of the paper, used patterned paper, and solid colored paper as well. The paper is folded, twisted, crumpled, and layered in order to model my own representation of coral morphogenesis. The substrate for the model is black and neon aquarium gravel.

Modeling coral growth simulation is typically done through 3d printing and approached in a very scientific manner, and I wanted to explore this from a more artsy and abstract perspective- utilizing what I’ve learned around folding in Drawing Machines. Additionally, I’m passionate about the ocean and ocean life, and wanted to work on something oceanic.

The beginning of my project consisted of research on coral morphology- a fundamental understanding, how it is typically studied, and how it can be represented. After compiling sources, I moved towards playing with tissue paper. I spent a significant amount of time experimenting with shape, texture, and color. Additionally, Vincent Floderer’s style is something I have attempted to envelop within my work since the beginning. In my final weeks, I have mainly been working to refine each body of coral within the work by individualizing and amplifying their independent personalities. Around critique week, I began to consider the coral collection supported by a substrate, which was (initially) solely black gravel. However, the installation of the coral collection allowed me to spread out the individuals and play with substrate color- the final substrate is composed of both black and multicolored neon gravel. The black gravel is the main base beneath the garden, but I ended up trailing refined paths of multicolored neon gravel between each individual coral, connecting them all. However, the collection was initially installed on a collapsed table with a black sheet of paper covering the table, but facilities removed the table out from underneath the installation when I was not present. The coral collection (and substrate) shifted dramatically, and the multicolored gravel paths were much more blended and scattered. I worked to get the gravel more separated like it was initially, but it was impossible to entirely restore. From there, I embraced the disturbance of it all and allowed the coral collection to remain altered by human infraction, just as coral in real life is.

This project means a lot to me, especially considering it is my first Sarah Lawrence College visual arts conference project. My main takeaway when considering the project is the preciousness of coral and how human impact and global warming is harming coral populations everywhere. I hope this work can serve as not only an unconventional representation of coral morphogenesis, but additionally a reminder of the beauty of coral, and why it’s worth preserving. 

Author: Violet Mandrake