Diatoms are single‐celled microalgae that have exterior shells. Their shells resemble intricate, polished glass, and they all have distinct and interesting presentations. They are located in all water environments and are thought to have emerged over 180 million years ago.
The world of diatoms are largely mysterious, and reportedly contains over 200, 000 mostly unknown species.
Though they live in a world unbeknownst to most, they have a large impact on the global climate and carbon dioxide levels. The significance of their ecosystems in marine and freshwater habitats is also essential. Diatoms are responsible for over 20% of the photosynthesis that occurs worldwide.
During the Victorian period, microscopists would assemble them into various patterns which could only be seen under magnification. The solitary master of this intriguing art form, Klaus Kemp, has been bringing diatoms to life so that the rest of us may also see a slice of their intrigue.
The Diatomist is a documentary by filmmaker Matthew Killip focusing on the artist’s work.
Kemp’s diatom arrangements are overwhelmingly incredible.
The process of assembling works by cleaning and mounting the diatoms on a glass slide. They are glued with a specialty formula then arranged over the course of a few days.
A self-taught microscopist, Kemp has perfected the artistic discipline of diatom arrangement. His specialization is the genus Mastogloia, and he has also uncovered many unknown species.
Researchers in nanotechnology are interested in the way that diatoms generate their shells. Studies concentrating on the genomic properties of diatoms are of interest in order to further understand how their complex structures are formed and how they could be applied to manmade constructions.
Some of the most gratifying and provoking art is inspired by nature, and Kemp’s diatom pieces are a reminder of this.
All images are the work and property of Klaus Kemp.
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