Video 1. The Beguiling of Merlin
"Curiosity, like all other desires, produces pain as well as pleasure." Samuel Johnson: Rambler #161 (October 1, 1751)
The Beguiling of Merlin is about the role of curiosity and desire in the pursuit of knowledge. In the Arthurian story of Merlin and Vivian, Vivian pretends to love Merlin so that she can acquire his learning and then destroy him. This provides a metaphor for scientists who may alternately occupy a position of power, because they have knowledge others want, or dependance because they need the support of others to continue their research. What is constant is a restless wanting to know which impels them on and makes them vulnerable.
Some, like the Curies, have been obsessed with the quest for understanding radioactive substances which they pursued at the expense of their health, noting only with detached interest the deterioration of their bodies from radiation poisoning and burns. Years later, many of the scientists who worked to build the "gadget" which became the first atomic bomb came to regret their part in the project. Yet the fascination which Madame Curie felt when she entered her laboratory at night and saw "gleamings, which seemed suspended in darkness, [and] stirred us with new emotion and enchantment ... like faint fairy light" has not lessened among those who continue to be curious and acquire knowledge which others may use for their own, sometimes destructive, purposes.
Audio for this installation was composed by Khate. Please check out her other work at www.khate.org. running time 2:57
Video 2. Life Forms are illuminated sculptures which depict fictional microorganisms. Illuminated internally with fiber optics and electroluminescent wire, they are displayed in a darkened environment lit by projected video images of moving water.
running time 1:12
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