Vanitas: Seed Head (2005)

Time-based Arts, Installation, DVD (2005/06)

Vanitas Seed-Head from Karen Ingham on Vimeo.

Three genetically linked morphing faces ‘loop’ within an x-ray of a bulb like skull, linking generation to generation in a technological vacuum of eternal life. Questions of genetic transmission, explorations of consciousness, and allegories of transience and mutability are explored through digital morphing techniques and video dissolves of anatomical x-rays of the skull.

Originally screened as part of Ingham’s artist in residence installation at the Waag, Amsterdam (April 2005) Vanitas developed from discussion with neuroscientists and stem cell researchers during Ingham’s Sciart Fellowship with Cardiff ‘s Neuroscience Research Group in 2005/6. In his description of stem cell research Kevin Fox describes how: “All cells of the brain are formed from a single initial pluripotential cell…a ‘stem’ cell is a cell early in this hierarchy that retains the capacity to reproduce copies of itself…’ Ingham’s response was to create a series of transitions between the faces of herself, her partner and their son, a replicating lineage. These were then overlaid with an x-ray of Ingham’s son’s skull and projected against the ‘coma blue’ of the medical teaching screen. The notion of the stem cell is transcribed to the Dutch floral Vanitas, alluding to an actual plant stem and bulb, referencing the notion of the seed continuing a genetic inheritance even as the parent/plant withers and dies.

With Support from Wales Arts International