Moss under microscope
The first impression is made by the sight in the distance, more details will be found when looked closer. In a distance, moss is a pad-like low-growing plant, while closer observation can show moss’s branched stems and small leaves. With the help of the microscope, I made a further observation of peat moss. Peat moss is common in wet or marsh areas. The plant is gray or grayish yellow, sometimes purple. Individual peat moss plants consist of the main stem, with tightly arranged clusters of branch fascicles usually consisting of two or three spreading branches and two to four hanging branches. The top of the plant, or capitalism, has compact clusters of young branches. Along the stem are scattered leaves of various shapes, named stem leaves; the shape varies according to species. Stem cross section was round, with a simple structure. There are two parts of stem: the skin and the central axis. Skin cells are large, colorless, and transparent. Axial cells are small and mostly thick. From the cell level, moss’s structure is relatively simple, while looking at the appearance, moss show various shapes.
When participated in a show "ROPES OF SAND" in Stornoway (a town on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland), I tested a lot of materials to print in the creative process, including Haplocladium microphyllum(a kind of moss). This is the first-time moss was used as material to create art pieces in my project.
The progress of impression making is very similar to block printing. I have learned and made block printing before. The image to be expressed is required to be carved on a wooden slab and printed out. The two most important steps in this progress are slab carving and printing. Most of the paintings and photography show objects directly, while the expression of block printing is indirect. The indirectness is the biggest difference between block printing and other paintings.
Block printing relies on the beauty of print marker to convey emotions. The carved slab, original object, and finished products differ from each other, it is difficult to guess the final appearance of the finished product from the original draft and carved slab. The original drawing and the final work often show a completely different appearance. Some of the original ideas will change, when some new effects found, therefore even re-design may happen. Personal inspiration will play an important role in the changing process.
Printings from real objects show more details and texture that change the first impression and contributes to the growth of new impression. During this project, the printing of moss made an impression most.
This time, I chose to print the texture of the moss directly on paper with a small leaf moss and ink. Printing the object directly with ink is a very good way to show more details. By scanning and zooming the print, another aspect of this species can be shown by the crosses between the leaves, the imprints that are dark or light. The texture of the print is somehow a spontaneous presentation of moss itself.
After collecting Sphagnum (is a genus of approximately 380 accepted species of mosses, commonly known as peat moss) from the countryside, I separated a sample from a whole piece of peat moss and was impressed by the length of the top green leaf to the bottom of the root. The upper part of the peat moss continues to grow, while the lower part of it is dying gradually. The leaves consist of two kinds of cells; small, green, living cells (chlorophyllose cells), and large, clear, structural, dead cells (hyaline cells). The latter has the large water-holding capacity. What most often seen is the vitality of living cells, but all of those are based on the foundation of death. Death does not mean the end, it is just another form of existence.
Generally, moss is a combination of constant death and regeneration. "Whether life can be eternal?" has always been a question. Moss looks like an eternal life, repeating death and rebirth, repeatedly, the cycle of life never stopped. A piece of fabric was made to show the relationship between death and life. The fabric shows the side view of moss, which is clear to see how the living part grows together with the dead part and keeps intertwining.
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