Geraldine Ondrizek is a professor of art at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Her work focuses on the documentation of biological specimens. Most recently she has used images of cellular forms and genetic testing to trace ethnic identity, life span, disease and family. For her new exhibition, she worked with several research scientists gathering imagery, information and sound to capture and recreate the phenomenon of cell division.
The Sound of Cells Dividing tells a larger-than-life story of creation and growth. For a film entitled Cellular, she used a stereomicroscope with a film capture function to take hours worth of magnified images of cellular development. She then edited 10 films of embryonic development so they overlap and repeat. The effect of viewing the most pre-recognizable phases of life formation is compelling when the film is projected onto an eight-foot by eight-foot screen. A set of prints made from the film highlights the major stages of gestation.
Sound Wall, the primary architectural installation, was made from translucent handmade Abaca paper. Resembling the walls of cells and illuminated from within, the eight-foot panels are framed with aluminum structures that form three cubic spaces. Tiny speakers are embedded in the walls of paper.
Visitors entering the luminous sculptures can hear the sounds of healthy cells dividing and damaged cells dying sounds taken from an atomic force microscope, which uses a needle to feel and record the actual vibration of a cell. Layered with Ondrizek's recordings of a monastery cell and family conversations, these provocative installations humanize acutely microscopic biological behaviour.