Capillary Gradient (NL)


In a gradient grid, the capillary action of a stem becomes visible

in flowers of the White Spathiphyllum: the veins of the so

called Peace Lily are turning shades of blue. Capillary Gradient

shows how liquids flow through vascular tissue from the

stem to the leaf against the forces of gravity. The strength of

capillarity, which can transport water upwards to maximum

130 meters in a tree, lead Einstein to his first scientific paper in

1901 called: “Conclusions Drawn from the Phenomena of

Capillarity”. The synergy between transpiration from the leaves,

the water pressure in the stem and the hydrostatic pressure

of nutrients cause liquids to travel upwards.

To highlight the process, the stems are placed in a solution

with the food colour E133: Brilliant Blue FCF. The coloured

water is transported through the stem to the flower leaves. The

amount of colour in the water is inversely related to the speed

at which the leaves colour. Therefore, the colour concentration

is varied between the cups to highlight the speed of transportation

through the vascular tissue. In a week’s time the white

flowers, while perishing, drink the blue solution and slowly

become a gradient blue.

Jessica de Boer | Netherlands

2010 | White Spathiphyllum, Water, Brilliant Blue FCF (E133), Cups

Presented in collaboration with National Art Musuem of China and V2_ with the supoort of

Mondriaan Foundaiton


Artist bio:

Jessica de Boer is an artist and researcher playing with the integration of art and science. She graduated cum laude in 2008 from the interfaculty ArtScience at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague with her moving sculpture Sealed. Previously she completed her Masters in Public Policy and Sustainability at the University of Twente. In 2008 she initiated the cultural program Zzondag at Villa Ockenburgh in The Hague: a platform for unprecedented ‘particle collisions’ between artists, scientist and musicians. She was co-curator for three years. In 2011 she investigated animism in Mexico through engagement with Huichol Indians and two artist residencies. This resulted in the moving sculpture The Life of the Dead Blue Hummingbird and a publication on contemporary animism. In 2012 she started her PhD in Spatial Planning at the University of Groningen. She constructs the image of an integrated energy landscape to see into the energy transition.