Antecedents 2014 

Around three billion years ago, when Earth was still young, CO2 dominated the atmosphere's composition. At that time, single-celled organisms of the type Cyanobacteria began to break down the atmospheric CO2, releasing oxygen as a byproduct of that process. Over the course of several billions of years, they gradually produced an oxygen-atmosphere, creating a mass extinction among the preexisting organisms adapted to existing on carbondioxide.

Cyanobacteria are our oldest forebearers, our dearest antecedents. Without them, there would be no flora, no fauna, no humanity.

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05-02–2014 : Inoculation 1st generation (Microcystis pa.)
02–24-2014 : No growth: sampling
02–05–2014 : Microscopic view of inoculated Microcystis culture [ Photo: Esther Kohler, University of Zurich ]
02-25-2014 : Microscopic view of Antecedents culture: Heterotropic Nanoflagellates[ Photo: Esther Kohler, University of Zurich ]
04–06–2014 : Sampling at end of exhibition


Today, cyanobacteria still inhabit the Earth, some of its longest-existing organisms. According to the endosymbiotic theory, Cyanobacteria (which are prokaryotes, first generation single cell organisms) were absorbed by later organisms (eukariotes), and put to work inside the mitochondria, breaking down CO2 using sunlight, thus making photosynthesis. Thriving as a part of every cell in every plant, they continue to produce O2 to this day.

http://waldvogel.com/cms/files/projects/antecedents/kolben_MG_1901.jpg


Helmhaus Zürich

In the installation conceived for Helmhaus Zürich, a colony of Cyanobacteria (Microcystis p.a.) was inoculated into a laboratory situation covering the entire floor in the Helmhaus' largest gallery. Just four centimeters deep, the colony covered 150m2 and measured around 4000 liters.

According to the test conducted at the Limnological station of the University of Zurich, the culture was supposed to develop from being invisible to turning deep green within five weeks.



But first, it did'nt. We took a sample and discovered, that all Cyanobacteria had been eaten by Heterotropic Nanoflagellates, a prokaryotic organism larger than Microcystis, which lives in the tubing of old cities such the medieval center of Zurich. We inoculated Planktothrix agardhii, a strain which strived because it is larger than the Nanoflagellates and cannot be eaten.

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My special thanks go out to the following people, without whom this project would not have been possible:
Daniel Morgenthaler, Jörg Heiser, Simon Maurer, Stefanie Herrmann, Tomas Germann (conceptual support and curatorial efforts)
Dr. Jean-Pierre de Vera, Prof. Dr. Ben Moore, Prof. Dr. Jakob Pernthaler (most patient and informative discussion partners)
Roby Steiner, Dr. Judith Blom, Esther Kohler, Eugen Loher, Pascale Birchler, Roman Blumenthal, Nino Baumgartner, Peter Schneider and Fabian Wegmüller (realization and installation of the works)
Dr. Oliver Angerer, Dr. Barbara Imhof, Dr. J. Michelle Kotler and Dr. Thomas Wicker (putting me in touch with the right people)
GS Gitterrost AG, Kanya AG, Glas Mäder, Sika AG (material sponsoring)
Claudia Meier Waldvogel and Elias J. Waldvogel (firing my imagination and providing inspiration and love)

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