Still Life on Earth, 2021
Archival Pigment prints on Hahnemuele photo rag paper
500 ml diameter, sold framed.
Myka Baum Still Life on Earth is a series of photographs from microscopic images of bacteria and yeasts. All her works in this series about the Scoby are both observations and symbols.
It shows the fragility of the material, which to Myka is a metaphor for the fabric of society and government. She relates the big holes to the massive holes we are experiencing throughout society. The title: Still Life on Earth is inspired by the crazy rush for space tourism. She believes that rather than rushing away to explore new targets, it is always better to use your eyes and see what is directly in front of you.
To the artist the SCOBY is a work of art in its own right. Growing biomats as a material has allowed her to observe closely the growth of these cultures and their interactions whilst thinking about the concept of symbiosis itself. She has become interested in manipulating this balance. For her it is a metaphorical project as well as a practical one. She considers the distorted result as an analogy of mankind’s un-harmonious relationship with habitat, and for the imbalances within society.
SCOBYs are symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeasts. They are widely cultivated to produce lacto-fermented drinks, like kombucha. SCOBYs are usually considered a waste product by the kombucha brewer. For Myka they are a subject of experiment and creativity.
Myka’s interest in symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast arose when she was researching Kombucha leather for a fabric book photography commission. This microbial mat, known as a pellicle is a cellulose-based film that forms as the result of the fermentation process of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and acetic acid bacteria (AAB).
About the artist
Myka Baum is an artist with a varied background and interests who trained in textiles, garment production and operations management. She studied fashion product management, then photography at Central St Martins followed by postgraduate study of print at the Royal College of Art. During the COVID pandemic she has run a cutting hub, mass-making scrubs for the NHS which has bordered art and practical action for society.
Myka is a key exhibitor in Nature’s Mysterious Networks. Her practice is concerned with the fragility of nature and how we have become so disconnected from both nature and our animal being. She is deeply engaged with nature. She observes it closely,
“feeling her way intellectually into the inner heart of a thing to locate what is unique and inexpressible in it’”. Henry Bergson