Etching, 56 x 56 cm, 2009

“The new cells seem to have been bacterial confederacies. They cooperated and centralised, and in doing so formed a new kind of cellular government. The upstarts were increasingly centrally organised, and their various cell organelles became integrated into a new biological unit”

Margulis, Lynn. Symbiotic Planet. A new look at evolution, 1998

The theory of Symbiogenesis proposes that evolution of new and more complex organisms occurred through symbiotic mergers. The driving force towards complexity is not created by competition but mainly emerges from collective cooperation.

I connected my desire to visualize endosymbiosis with another idea I had floating around: to compose one large image by tiling smaller images; each an individual image in its own right. Perfect for symbiogenesis. I also considered the idea that evolutionary development accelerates over time. I decided to use thirteen tiles, and increase the amount of tiles depicting each stage. The series I used is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, and 5, which are the first numbers of the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. The ratios derived from that sequence correspond very closely to 5:8, which is the same ratio as the Golden Section. I chose to insert this particular sequence in my image, because proportions close to the Golden Section are encountered in many forms and processes of life.  We find it in the spirals of shells and sunflowers, and also in philotaxis of plant growth.

Once my concept was defined, I needed to find source images of bacteria and cell organelles. I did not want to take too much artistic license in depicting these organisms and tried to find original images on the web. Cell organelles were easy to find, but interesting or detailed images of the smaller bacteria were less easy to access. I tried to determine which bacteria was part of more archaic lineages so I could place them in the bottom corner, the foundation of my symbiotic, merging sequence.

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