Notations of the Ecosystem of the Western Salt Works with the Inclusion of Brine Shrimp.
This work was designed for the Art and Technology Exhibition that was held in 1971 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It took an entirely different direction from the work inside that, with few exceptions, was evolved from electronic technologies of one kind or another. This was a late addition to the exhibition, done as an entry piece at a cost of approximately $800. Our other work cost approximately $50,000. The reason was simple; as opposed to electricity, the sun was the engine.
For this work, a low, waterproof wooden structure was composed of four ten foot by twenty foot by eight-inch deep containers. Each “pond” was filled with water of a different salinity from seawater to brine ten times saltier than seawater (the white pond). The algae, Dunaliella, which produces carotene as a response to increasing salinity, was introduced into each of the four ponds. The box then became a three-dimensional color field painting going from blue-green to dark yellowish-green to brick red to white. At this point, the brine shrimp, Artemia, were introduced. As they ate the algae, the color continually changed. This work was one of the simplest discrete ecosystems extant, as only the brine shrimp and the algae can exist under these extreme conditions. At maximum production, scaled up, the piece produces about 18,000 pounds wet weight an acre.
Where: The exhibition “Art and Technology”
Who: Research done with Dr. Richard Eppley & Dr. Michael Mullen, Scripps Institute of Oceanography Algology Group.
Commissioned by: Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the exhibition “Art and Technology”.