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Capillary Gradient

Capillary Gradient is a work by Jessica De Boer

Capillary Gradient

Jessica de Boer: Capillary Gradient

In a gradient grid, the colours of the ocean and the sky become visible in leaves of the Chinese sacred lily: the white narcissus. While Narcissus was known in Greek mythology as a hunter unable to leave the image of his own beauty reflected in the water, in Chinese the narcissus is known as the ‘water goddess’ or ‘the goddess who stands above the waves.’ Literally meaning ‘water immortal,’ the flower is believed to have powers to bring a person back to life and when many narcissus bloom together they form a group of ‘immortals.’

Capillary Gradient shows the flow of liquids through vascular tissue against the forces of gravity from the stem to the leaf. The synergy between transpiration from the leaves, the water pressure in the stem, and the hydrostatic pressure of nutrients cause liquids to travel upwards. To highlight the process, the stems are placed in a solution with the food color E133, Brilliant Blue FCF. The colored water is transported through the stem to the flower leaves. The color concentration is varied between the cups since the amount of color in the water is inversely related to the speed at which the leaves color. During a week’s time the white leaves drink the blue solution and slowly become a gradient blue.

Acknowledgments: Stroom Den Haag, Mondriaan Stichting

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