Mutatos 1

Mutatos 2

c. 7.25 x 9 x 3.75 inches
Flameworked and coldworked borosilicate glass, coldworked glass mug, ripstop nylon, epoxy, silicone

Margaret Neher flameworked all the borosilicate “bits” and I did the rest of the piece.

Mutatos was inspired by an electron micrograph taken in the early 1970s by some scientists working in a lab at The General Electric Company. Apollo crew members had come back from the moon with dents in their helmets, so GE was working on ways to protect astronauts from cosmic rays. The lab simulated the effects of cosmic rays and then made silicone rubber molds of the microscopic dents they had created, which resulted in the cone shaped forms in the micrograph I saw.

The cone shaped cosmic ray dents are on the inside front cover of this glass mug “book”. The front side of the single page has a recreation of a circular plasmid on it. The back of the page holds some forms based on desiccated salt crystals. The inside of the back cover holds red-blood cell shapes, and on the outside of the back cover are some more salt crystals.

The piece refers to DNA mutation, one of the things believed to cause mutation being cosmic rays. The basic idea of the piece is that our species has been around for so many millennia that we are all most likely mutants by now. If the theory about modern humans originating in Africa is true, being mutants is particularly the case for those of us who are Caucasians!

I found the micrograph taken at the GE lab in the book Worlds Within Worlds: A Journey into the Unknown by Michael Warton, et al. The reference for the circular plasmid, taken by Stanley N. Cohen, is from the same book. The reference for the salt crystals and the blood cells came from various places which we combined into our shapes. Margaret’s borosilicate renditions came out even better than I hoped they would.