In this case, the worms are tiny green caterpillars (unknown species). These leaves are from my worm-ridden hops vine, usually an unstoppable perrenial, but this year it is decimated into an early state of lace. And so, the artful work of the worms have been preserved for posterity on a gelatin print.
It is hard not to think of death and decay when working with gelatin. It is a product made from the bones of swine (hope I didn’t ruin your day with that), and it is prone to decay. Every gelatin plate has a limited life span with an unknown due date, just like us. As long as I have one cooling in the fridge, it adds a background buzz of anxiety—not much, but it is there. I wonder, will I get the most of the plate? Will the art honour the use of a food product made from animals? Will I pull enough enough prints from it before time renders it unusable? And what wonders, or disasters will appear when it arrives at it’s final stages, mould-ridden, pocked, gelatinous with edges so soft that they slough off with every use?
Mouldy gelatin: about 3 weeks old. This is it’s last day.
Initial test prints from the mouldy gelatin, just to see what innate textures it will have.
There is an artificial and permanent substitute for gelatin. These gel printing plates would be essential to vegetarians, but I too am thinking of getting some. I would love it for the in-between times, when I don’t want to deal with time-limited realities, and for demo’s, when the real thing is just too fragile.
However, I must admit that dealing with gelatin’s fragility and decay is essential to the point of the matter. Nothing is permanent, nothing lasts forever. As artists and collectors, we try to by-pass this thought, using archival this, and archival that, hoping that through art we will achieve some measure of permanence, but once in awhile, it is good to stare into the face of mortality and know we need to grasp every moment as it comes; life is dynamic and short (however long it may be, it will always be short); don’t waste a minute.