Knit one, pearl two, repeat for 240 million years

What’s as excruciating as waiting for corals to grow into a whole reef? I’d argue it’s knitting. In either case, the same thing has to happen over and over and over, without interference, before you get something to house biodiversity or wear for the winter, and then you run the risk of ships crashing into it or moths eating it, or if you decided to knit an iceberg, I guess, both. (Knitting icebergs: it’s like rearranging deck chairs.)

CrochetReef

Crocheting the coral rubble is extra-tedious

If you’re an artist, there’s a beautiful symmetry here: why not make something slow-growing out of something slow-going? Yesterday, Eric saw a nice review of the Coral Reef Crochet Project, an art exhibit about corals, by crafters (AC/BC?). Then he remembered something about me and corals. Handicraft handoff.

"Stop Haeckel-ing, we're growing as fast as we can"

"Stop Haeckel-ing, we're growing as fast as we can"

Currently on exhibit in Scottsdale, AZ, The Coral Reef Crochet Project is sponsored by IFF: The Institute For Figuring, which I think has the best name of any organization, ever. They’re testing how variations in stitch number yield a diversity of hyperbolic shapes in a final piece of crochet. It’s a geeky math thing, inspired by science, executed with art, often yielding surprising results. (Actually, so is my cooking.) Tiny variations in growth and branching patterns also happen to be what give corals such a diversity of forms. Add a stitch here or a dissolved inorganic carbon gradient there, and you get a totally different sweater/coral.

Just as you can deploy yarn and needles to make a hideous sweater, an ironic hat, or a super cute scarf, the IFF coral project has spawned a number of variations on the original crochet reef theme: the Anemone Reef, the Toxic Reef (made of trash), and the heartbreakingly demure Bleached Reef. The latter two are displayed alongside the depressing stories that motivated their creation. The final message: Art is hard. So is growing the largest biological structures on earth. So please, nobody yank on that string.

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7 Responses to Knit one, pearl two, repeat for 240 million years

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