Authorettes in princeps having been the two Ursulas, Gaul and Geissler, labfamous already for frequence in coincidence of twin knit sweaters, manufactured the Bibliography on the Fine-Structure of Diatom Frustules (Bacillariophyceae) in conjunction with auspices of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, in existence since eighteen hundred and forty one. For the sake of the uninitiated, and other ebulliently ingratiating cretins, diatoms are exceedingly minute plantbits of algae humungous in variety thus snowflake reminiscent, except not limited to redundant geometry, range of shapes transcendently in radiant chromatic array too from cathedral rose window likeness to bulgy triangle to rectangles and trapezoids to short eelish taperings like translucent grass or paramecia-reminiscent colorless as glass these mysterious algae entangled in water evince a resemblance to clear sacks of trail mix each but a few microns of girth and length such that a thousand could fit with ease within the period here seen at the base of the d at this sentence’s end.
According to Megan of the Smithsonian, “Since seeing his first diatom arrangement—an intricate pattern of algae crafted by German microscopist J.D. Möller—Matthew Killip has been enthralled with the Victorian art form.” Yes, the Victorians created art unseeable by the naked eye, like other things of natural beauty so similarly disguised, but Killip has discovered the diatomic artform’s biogenic precursor to have been one Klaus Kemp, “sole practicioner,” pioneer solitaire, lonely afficianado anachronist of an age when Herbert Spencer declared “society is but an organism.”
Actually Kemp is our contemporary, having become flabbergasted by apparent acumen of gifted predecessors who it seems had managed to photograph them, these, the indispensable oxygenmaking teeny chloropastic bubbles.
Killip explains via Kemp, or vice-versa, via Smithsonian Megan, that “Diatoms are microscopic single-cell algae housed in beautiful glass shells. There are hundreds of thousands of varieties of diatoms all with unique forms.” Igitur, snowflakes glass encased expressing near infinite geometrical array! K.K. attempted to manipulate clumps of them into the fancy rococoish mandalas and abstusely inabstractly baroquey artistic symmetries his Victorian forbears made with remarkable paucity of success: eight years in, he constructed his first, a difficult task of technically clueless mimicry. Remarkably, his obsession Sisyphean continues to this day. For the Victorians, not unlike the great Giza pyramid builders and Antikythera makers and Voynich manuscript scribblers of their day, left behind no blueprints nor hieroglyph rosettaliths nor nostradamic field guides to interpret, explain, or describe The Craft of making them; they thus remain as inexplicable as the ochre of Vermeer and the genius of Valesquez but with the caveat, O emptor, that Kemp insists his wife is under sworn obligation “to pass on the recipe once I’ve passed on.” (Or some such hologramitic murmer.)
In pace requiescat!