Gail Wight
Hydraphilia

Slime mold: you’ve noticed it growing on a fallen tree in the forest, or even possibly growing on old lettuce in your compost pile; but have you really looked at it and appreciated its unique attributes? Artist Gail Wight has lovingly regarded these protists, which typically grow on dead logs or other plant material, feeding on the microorganisms that grow as the plant decays. She has seen the beauty of this simple organism as it takes in energy and reproduces using spores, shifting shapes as it develops. Her process has a great deal in common with scientific inquiry.

To create Hydraphilia (2009), Wight prepared agar slides tinted with non-toxic dyes, added the slime mold, and began videotaping the resulting growth patterns. The video is a microscopic time-lapsed view (30x) of the Physarum Polycephalum or slime mold. Polycephalum is Latin for "many-headed" and Wight’s title for her video installation references a mythological nine-headed monster, the Hydra of Greek myths that grew two heads when one was lopped off. According to the artist, “This video evokes a love for the beauty and occasional grotesqueness of this many-headed creature.”

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Related Programs and Events

  • Meet the Artist: Gail Wight on Hydraphilia

    Friday May 4, 2012 / 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

    Artist Gail Wight explores the intersections of art and science in all of her work. Join the Museum in welcoming Wight, as she describes the process and explorations behind Hydraphilia, a time-lapse video installation documenting the growth of physarum polycephalum specimens, more commonly known as slime mold.

    The Art Bite series is funded in part by Nevada Humanities.

  • Biologist Guy Hoelzer on Slime Molds in Gail White’s Hydraphilia

    Friday June 15, 2012 / 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

    Slime molds are single cell amoebas capable of working collaboratively to form enormous multicellular bodies capable of crawling. Learn from biologist Guy Hoelzer about the slime molds featured in Gail Wight’s Hydraphilia.
    The Art Bite Series is sponsored in part by a grant from Nevada Humanities.

Gail Wight, Hydraphilia (video still), 2009. Time-lapse video, 9 monitors, 47 x 60 inches, edition of 3. Courtesy of the Artist and Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco.

Hydraphilia