“Philosophers’ Stone” is related to the project of the iGEM Heidelberg Team, EilsLab/DKFZ/University of Heidelberg (Grand Prix in iGEM 2013 competiton!)
The scientific research was inspired by the bacterium Delftia acidovorans, which is known for generating a non-ribosomal peptide (NRP) called delftibactin used to detoxify soluble gold. The team hopes that their experiments with E.coli bacteria will revolutionize the recovery of gold from electronic waste as well as stimulate the research on potentiality of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases in synthetic biology; in basic research, pharmaceutical development and recycling. (2013.igem.org/Team:Heidelberg)
“Philosophers’ stone” evokes
also cultural context
of the project. It refers to the ever-lasting human endeavours to comprehend the nature and to
the tradition in which knowledge (guiding to wisdom) was the highest value.
Indeed, philosophers’ stone (Latin: lapis philosophorum) is mostly associated with the legendary alchemic substance used for the transmutation of base metals into precious stones: gold or silver. However, for alchemists, the human greed was not the ground for their research. The Greek alchemist, Zosimos qualified the philosophers’ stone as xerion (Arabic. El Iksir, Latin. Elixir). Apart of transmutation, it was supposed to heal all forms of diseases, prolong life, secure agelessness and even immortality.
Thus the philosophers’ stone expressed the deepest human
desires to control and gain power over natural processes and, ultimately, to
conquer the death.
a 3D stereoscopic narrative . Referring
to the laboratory procedures as well as to the alchemic metaphor of transmutation, the
artwork “Philosophers’ Stone” is devided into four parts:
Nigredo or blackness.
For alchemists it was the first step towards Lapis Philosophorum, in
which all ingredients where subjected to putrefaction or decomposition becoming
massa confusa. a uniform black essence or chaos.
Nigredo was interpreted as the state of
between self and object, consciousness and the unconscious.
It was followed by a growing awareness of the subject’s shadow aspects
combined with a painful confrontation, self-criticism, disillusion and
in film: process in which computer waste, people and bacteria merge into a unified digital matter.
process of purification
film: process in which in this unified massa confusa
particles start to form an atomic structure of Delftibactine, slowly creating a
complicated virtual environment animated by water and fire (referring to the
duality of elements and the use of aqua regia in the scientific
literally referred to the transmutation of silver into gold or yellowing
of the lunar consciousness,
the solar dawn or awakening,
film: process in which this animated cloud becomes a precious
and desired gold, the symbol of the highest value, immortality and beauty.
However, it is composed of notes and records accompanying the experimental phase
of the scientific project. Slowly the solid form diffuses itself into particles
- dispersed carriers or seeds of information
the final stage of magnum opus, standing
for the achievement of “wholeness” and the deepest knowledge of nature.