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The Medicine Chest

On the External Characters of Minerals

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  • The body fluid

    "We shed many skin cells – at a rate per hour it comes close to a million cells per day. New cells generated at the bottom of our layered epidermis push their way to the top, where they are weathered by the environment and our daily activities. ​ As the living body breaks down, it becomes lodged in skin pores and clothing fibres. It is inhaled, irritates, is sneezed out and blown afar; it collects in corners, and gathers on surfaces. It welcomes company, joining with soil or, lifted by weather patterns, combines with volcanic eruptions, pollution and plant pollen, or with animal bodies, minerals, and even with burnt meteorite particles – all the while becoming increasingly microscopic and indistinct. The body, now fluid and divisible, transgresses boundaries. Transformed and nomadic, it inhabits spaces without detection. That is, until a ray of sunlight reveals drifting motes hovering in the air, or a missing shoe leads to the surprise discovery of a copulating fluffle of dust bunnies under the bed. In Gutspeak, these former remnants of ourselves are gathered by the artist Dominique Edwards from the tools used to seemingly eliminate them, and turned into sheets of paper. On closer inspection, these sheets reveal a multitude of its separate components: eyelashes, cosmetics, grains of sand, diminished chewing gum wrappers and pubic hair. There is also glitter. And a surprising amount of it. Are these cosmetic ingredients? Or...perhaps meteorite particles?"
  • The Tide Turns Installation

    Tumble dryer lint
  • The Tide Turns Installation

    Paper works made from new mops, used mops and tumble dryer lint. Sculptural installation consisting of one small intermittently rotating mop and one large continuously rotating mop.
  • Mop

    Videos projected onto a floating screen
  • Floor

    Used mop paper
  • Where their lives took on true weight

    In Alice Munro's short story 'Post and Beam', the two protagonists return home from a short vacation: "Up Capilano Road, into their own part of the city and their own corner of the world, where their lives took on true weight and their actions took on consequences. There were the uncompromising wooden walls of their house, showing through the trees" (Munro 2001: 212).
  • House

    Lokrete with metal armature Grove Road, London, E3 (Destroyed 11 January 1994)
  • Perpetuum Mobile (2400KG)

    Water, bucket, hydrophone, mist-machine, 2 400kg cement, relay timer, amplifier and cable. Water is set in motion by means of ultrasound (at times amplified by loudspeakers), generating steam that slowly spreads through the exhibition space and envelops sacks of cement whose mass is changed as the exhibition proceeds by the meandering atmospheric humidity.
  • The Northern Lights

    Histology slides of the brain (human and animal), scanned and converted into video projection
  • 175 chalk-board dusters

    For the exhibition, 'Curiosity CLXXV', the curators took an old duster from each teaching venue and replaced it with a new one.
  • Einstein's abstracts

    Cibachrome on aluminium. Microscopic magnification of Einstein’s equations from a blackboard that had been preserved in the History of Science Museum in Oxford
  • Micrographia

    Engraving, magnified view of the forms of small diamonds or shining sparks in flints (fig. 1), "the forms of gravel in urine (fig. 2), and a variety of regular for resulting from various combinations of globules (fig. 3, 4)"; Schem. 5. From 'Micrographia: or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses with observations and Inquiries thereupon' by Robert Hooke, Fellow of the Royal Society, 1665.
  • Kimberlite

    A display outside the Cape Town Diamond Museum in the V&A Waterfront
  • Kimberlite

    Kimberlite specimens, UCT Mantle Room
  • Kimberlite

    Kimberlite specimen, UCT Mantle Room
  • Cecil John Rhodes statue

    The man who consolidated thousands of small diggings in Kimberley to found De Beers Consolidated Mines was Cecil Rhodes, who then used the profits to extend into gold mining in and around Johannesburg.
  • The Diamond Mines of South Africa: Some Account of their Rise and Development.

    “In the mines operated by the De Beers Company alone, more than eleven thousand African natives are employed below and above ground, coming from the Transvaal, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland, from districts far north of the Limpopo and the Zambesi, and from the Cape Colony on the east and the south to meet the swarms flocking from Delagoa Bay and countries along the coast of the Indian Ocean, while a few cross the continent from Damaraland and Namaqualand, and the coast washed by the Atlantic. The larger number are roughly classed as Basutos, Shanganes, M'umbanes, and Zulus, but there are many Batlapins from Bechuanaland, Amafengu, and a sprinkling of nearly every other tribe in South Africa” (Williams 1902: 412-413). ​
  • The Diamond Mines of South Africa: Some Account of their Rise and Development.

    “The initial impetus for establishing a collection of mantle materials for research purposes in South Africa was provided by Gardner Williams and his son Alpheus Williams in the late 19th and early 20th century. These two American mining engineers shared a great interest in the mining methods and geology of the South African kimberlite-hosted diamond mines they were supervising. Each wrote books on the subject and the two men assembled a collection of scientifically interesting rock samples and minerals from the mines. Subsequent to the death of Alpheus Williams, the Williams family donated this collection to the Geology Department at UCT for teaching and research purposes” (Department of Geological Sciences 2021).
  • The South African College

    “UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. ​ The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. ​ The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government. ​ During these years, the College built its first dedicated science laboratories, and started the departments of mineralogy and geology to meet the need for skilled personnel in the country's emerging diamond and gold-mining industries” (University of Cape Town 2021).
  • Looking down

    Educational graphs spotted en route down to the Mantle Room, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town. Situated in the bowels of the Leslie Social Sciences Building on upper campus, the Mantle Room "houses a collection of upper mantle-derived materials (mantle xenoliths and xenocrysts, kimberlites and related rocks and megacrysts, as well as deep crystal xenoliths) that is most likely the largest of its kind. The collection was assembled over the past 50 years and has been and continues to be an invaluable and irreplaceable resource for mantle research. Informally named the “Mantle Room” collection, it is maintained under the auspices of the Department of Geological Sciences”(Department of Geological Sciences 2021).
  • Geometry in unlikely places

    "These bladder stones are most likely made up of calcium oxalate; they are faceted because they rub against each other. (Faceting only occurs when there are two or more stones together)".
  • Haematite Miner's Lung (Or Sidero-silicosis)

    Catalogue No: R3-d55-0331. Origin: UCT Anat Path museum. Old Museum No: V:x:6. Year: not recorded. ​Clinical data: No further clinical or laboratory details are available other than that the patient was an emaciated 50 year old man. Macroscopy: The specimens preserved are both lungs, the heart, kidneys, spleen and and portions of liver. In the thorax, both pleural cavities were completely obliterated by a fibrous pleurisy of long-standing and both lungs were universally adherent throughout. They were stripped off with difficulty and were found to have thickening of the pleura over the upper lobe on the left side and the upper and middle lobes on the right. The lower lobes on both sides were soft and spongy while the upper lobes were dense and firm on palpation but on section there was no cavitation and no evidence of tuberculosis. The left lung showed a dense fibrosis of the whole of the upper lobe and the upper third of the lower lobe; no crepitant lung tissue could be found in the upper lobe while the lower two-thirds of the lower was crepitant and showed emphysema of a hypertrophic nature. The lung was a dull brick colour and haematite dust flowed out with the fluid when the lung was sectioned. The right lung presented a similar appearance to the left. There was a solid dense fibrosis of the upper and middle lobes and the lower lobe showed fibrosis with hypertrophic emphysema. There was no evidence of tuberculosis and on palpation, a dense fibrosis was found with no nodular formation whatever. On section, it showed a similar appearance of a brick-dust colour, dilated bronchi and uniform fibrosis of the upper and middle lobes with no crepitant lung tissue. The pericardial sac was slightly increased in size due to a hypertrophied and dilated heart. The hypertrophy was mostly on the right side and there was a terminal dilatation of the right atrium; the valves and coronary vessels unremarkable.The liver was small and on section showed venous congestion and cloudy swelling. Microscopy: On microscopy, sections of lung show a diffuse fibrosis of both upper lobes with no recognizable lung tissue. The fibrosis in areas has a slightly whorled arrangement, the centre of which is hyaline and contains no iron pigment and surrounding it is a zone of cellular tissue containing masses of iron. In the upper part of the lower lobe where the lung tissue is recognizable as such, a few nodules definitely resembling silica nodules are to be seen. In the both lower lobes a solid oedema was noted and emphysema marked. The fibrosis was not present to anything like the same extent in the lower lobes, the emphysema being the most marked feature. No evidence of tuberculosis was found in either lung, though a calcareous gland was found in the hilum. Under polarised light, the iron showed up as a golden brown with a few points of light, clear, needle-like in contra-distinction to the iron lying free in the fibrous tissue. The macrophages are beautifully shown lying inside the alveoli filled with iron dust. Percentage of Ash 16.6 Percentage of silica to ash 6.6 Percentage of silica to dry lung 1.1 Percentage of iron to ash 10.3 Percentage of iron to dry lung 6.7 Comments: In summary, the post mortem findings were of: Dense pulmonary fibrosis; hypertrophied and dilated right ventricle; failure of compensation. This condition is described as haematite miner's lung or sidero-silicosis, caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica and ferric oxide which is the principal component of the ore. The fibrosis is thought to be caused primarily by the silica and the exact role of the iron pigment in the pathogenesis of the lesion is not clear. The earliest lesions occur as small densely fibrous, sub-pleural foci usually in the upper lobes; these grow by coalescence of adjacent foci until a diffuse fibrosis of the whole lobe is produced. Haematite miner's fibrosis is commonly associated with tuberculosis and other chronic lung infections; in addition there is quite a high incidence of carcinoma of the lung reported in these cases.
  • Pompei casts

  • Silicosis

    A gold miner using a rock drill with a water spray in an attempt to prevent the occupational disease silicosis, caused by dust inhalation.
  • How to look at the night sky

    "Even fainter is the galactic light, a diffuse glow that scatters off the dust in the space between the stars. It is said to account for an additional 6 percent of the light of the night sky, too faint to be distinguished from the integrated starlight and the nightglow. Dust accounts for another of these nighttime lights, the zodiacal light. It is caused by the zodiacal cloud, the name astronomers give to the dust that orbits the sun along with the planets and asteroids. Sunlight that reflects off the zodiacal cloud is called zodiacal light" (Elkins 2000: 214 - 215).
  • Donahue near-miss

    An artwork purchased in 2015 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art Graduate Show, created by then student, Tess Metcalf.
  • Deductions from smooth rocks

    Extract from Bettie Higgs's reading of rocks in 'Visual Practices Across the University'. Most of the rocks in this photograph are about 360 million years old, so the grains that comprise them are substantially older. The grains came originally from a mountain range, as large as the Himalayas, whose roots can still be seen in counties Mayo and Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. The grains were carried south by rivers and deposited in this area; the smallest grains were carried all the way to the ocean, which was far south of Cork at the time, in what is now the Atlantic Ocean south of Ireland. (There was very little rainfall at the time: the portion of land that is now Cork was 10° south of the Equator. This can be deduced from the properties of the iron in the rock.) The water in which the grains were transported was oxygenated, and the iron precipitated out as iron oxide (haematite), which cemented the grains and which accounts for the red color (Elkins 2007: 74 - 78).
  • The conquest of time

    An extract from an email from archaeologist and former head of African Studies, Prof Nick Shepherd (Jan 21, 2021, 11:33 AM): "Disciplinary practices and regimes of care constitute a kind of bureaucratization or governmentality of elapsed time and its material remains and human relationships, placing these remains and relationships under a kind of administration. We think of the elaborate structure of regional typologies and chronologies, the immense work of correctly assigning artefacts and sites to these imagined categories, and the vast institutional apparatus that supports these endeavors – all of which constitute archaeology as a formidable disciplinary enterprise. In the face of this enterprise, the “many worlds” of local claims to the past have little chance of success".
  • Observing marbling in Edirne

    A marbling demonstration observed during a 2012 trip to Istanbul and a visit to the neighbouring Edirne's Health Museum. Opened in Sultan Bayezid II külliye in 1488, the hospital treated patients for over 400 years, until 1909, along the tradition of Turkish-Islamic medicine, which included the treatment of diseases by music.
  • End papers of 'What to Observe'

    Published in 1841, Jackson’s guide was the first of a series of guides published during this period which offered notes for the traveller on appropriate conduct in the field – from providing methods for training the eye to observe what was deemed as relevant details, to instructions on which precision instruments should be carried and how to use them to record and inscribe the results of observations made (Withers 2013: 170). As Jackson states, his guide pointed out to the “uninitiated Traveller what he [sic] should observe, and to remind the one who is well informed, of many objects which (…) might escape him” (Jackson 1841: i).
  • Burrowing

    Extract from 'A Child in Time': "Later, in the sorry months and years, Stephen was to make efforts to re-enter this moment, to burrow his way back through the folds between the events, crawl between the covers, and reverse his decision. But time – not necessarily as it is, for who knows that, but as thought constituted it – monomanically forbids second chances" (McEwan 1987: 14).
  • Amelia

    Amelia explaining her flight plan
  • A1.21-A1.21.1

    An object from BC666: Walter Floyd's physiology notes from when he was a student.
  • Mary Anning

    Henry De la Beche's portrait of Mary Anning, the English fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist who became known around the world for finds she made in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis. These cliffs consisted of alternating layers of limestone and shale, laid down as sediment on a shallow seabed early in the Jurassic period (about 210 - 195 million years ago). ​As a woman, Anning was treated as an outsider to the scientific community. The increasingly influential Geological Society of London did not allow women to become members, or even to attend meetings as guests.
  • On the External Characters of Minerals

    "The chest is designed to meet the requirements of travellers, miners, missionaries and others who need a chest of sufficient capacity to take a good supply of medicines without undue bulk and weight. It is very portable, and, on account of the material of which it is made, capable of standing hard usage" (BWC 1934: 24).
  • Aurora Borealis

    Extract from 'What to Observe', 1841, written by Julian Jackson (The Royal Geographical Society)
  • Circumference

    On June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart took off from Oakland, California, on an eastbound flight around the world. It was her second attempt to become the first pilot ever to circumnavigate the globe. ​
  • Breath of a Physicist

    William Blake, 1794, Ancient of Days Inscription: "In his hand, he took the Golden Compasses, prepared in Gods Eternal stone, to circumscribe This Universe, and all created things One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd Round through the vast profundity obscure, And said, thus farr extend, thus far thy bounds, This be thy just circumference, O World" "In the process of realising this work, [Cornelia] Parker facilitated the collaboration of scientists from the physics department with those from its art gallery. She also drew attention to the scientific qualities of the artwork and, through the performative act of igniting a firework display, the symbolism of scientific discovery" (Liebenberg 2021: 31).
  • Graphene

    "Parker formulated 'Breath of a physicist' while engaging with the academic communities of the University of Manchester in 2015. She worked closely with the scientists of the institution, most notably Kostya Novoselov, who, with Andre Geim, was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of graphene – the world’s thinnest and strongest material. After being inspired by the discovery of a graphite drawing by William Blake ('The ancient of days') in the university’s art collection, Parker facilitated a collaboration between the gallery staff and Novoselov in which he sourced microscopic samples of graphite from the drawing, as well as graphite from drawings by Turner, Constable and Picasso and from a pencil-written letter by Sir Ernest Rutherford (who split the atom in Manchester), which all formed part of the university’s collections. Novoselov produced graphene from these samples, which Parker then used to make her own artwork and a ‘Blake-graphene sensor’, which was activated by the breath of a physicist (Novoselov) and set off a firework display, returning iron meteorite into the Manchester sky on the opening night" (Liebenberg 2021: 31).
  • Lotus Leaves (Full Leaf)

    "Gabriel Orozco's interest in the natural world and its relationship with humans inspired him to have actual lotus leaves etched into the printing plates, creating a man made yet true rendering of the leaf. Every vein, tear, and insect bite was captured and imprinted on special custom milled Gampi paper matching the hues of the leaf. The proofs were made as chine collé soft ground etchings, individually cut to the shape of each leaf. Orozco had a revelation while holding one of the tissue thin leaf prints up to the window: the exquisite purity that he was seeking was best displayed deconstructed and suspended in glass, illuminated all around, like a delicate specimen. The somewhat unorthodox technique used for this edition was an exciting challenge that resulted in a series of lifelike images that honors the natural world "(Lapis Press 2021).
  • Scientific atlases

    "Used from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the scientific atlases provided, for example, simplified, generalised and idealised versions of the objects of anatomy, physiology, botany, palaeontology and astronomy, to name a few, guiding the student and practitioner to what was worth looking at, how it looked and, perhaps most important of all, how it should be looked at (Daston & Galison 2007:23). The establishment and representations of these working sets of objects, and the standardised procedures for studying them, thus extended the initial influence exercised on the individual traveller in the field. By controlling the very act of seeing and by creating a sense of individuals working as members of academic communities, the atlases shaped the subjects and the objects of their disciplines. Processes initiated in the field and reinforced in institutions, societies and museums laid the foundation for procedures still used by the disciplinary insiders of university departments today" (Liebenberg 2021: 111).
  • On the External Characters of Minerals

    "The chest is designed to meet the requirements of travellers, miners, missionaries and others who need a chest of sufficient capacity to take a good supply of medicines without undue bulk and weight. It is very portable, and, on account of the material of which it is made, capable of standing hard usage" (BWC 1934: 24).
  • Situations in which a Tabloid medicine chest made by BWC would be useful.

    Situations in which a Tabloid medicine chest made by Burroughs Wellcome and Co. would be useful. Colour process print, ca. 1909. The Tabloid medicine chests were distributed free to well known explorers such as H.M Stanley and Ernest Shackleton. The word 'tabloid' was coined by the firm of Burroughs Wellcome and registered as a trademark.
  • Resonance

    Demonstration of sympathetic vibration using the optical (flame) microphone
  • Amelia

    Amelia Earhart explaining her flight and the welcome she received
  • The Tacoma Narrows Bridge

    The old Tacoma Narrows bridge was named Galloping Gertie because it vibrated rather strongly whenever there was a little wind due to resonance, the property which most objects have, of vibrating more strongly when exposed to an external force which is itself vibrating at the object's natural frequency. Crossing Gertie was actually quite a popular thing to do, similar to riding a roller-coaster. On November 7, 1940, things changed for the worse however. It was a day of rather high winds which caused Gertie to take on a 30-hertz transverse vibration with an amplitude of 1½ feet. This developed into a twisting motion of about 14 hertz, which then tore the bridge in two. The only victim of the disaster was a three-legged Cocker Spaniel, Tubby, left in the back seat of a lone car abandoned on the bridge.
  • The Green Ray (Jules Verne)

    "At last only a faint rim of gold skimmed the surface of the sea. 'The Green Ray! the Green Ray!' cried in one breath the brothers, Dame Bess and Partridge, whose eyes for one second had revelled in the incomparable tint of liquid jade. Oliver and Helena alone had missed the phenomenon which had at last appeared after so many fruitless observations. Just as the sun was shooting its last ray into space their eyes met, and all else was forgotten in that glance. But Helena had caught the black ray, shining from the young man's eyes, and Oliver the blue ray beaming from hers. The sun had gone down, and neither Oliver nor Helena had seen the Green Ray" (Verne 1883:136).
  • The Green Ray (Tacita Dean)

    "This is really interesting, because I filmed it on this beach in Madagascar, and there was this couple who were hanging around. They didn’t see the green ray, and they’d videotaped the sunset to document it. Then they replayed their video to me for proof that it wasn’t there. But I was absolutely convinced that I had seen it, so it had to be on my film, which was optical and analog. When I got the film back, it was very, very faint, and I had to really push it to get more color in the film, to bring out the green ray. But it’s definitely there. It’s not a fiction. Some people think the green ray is an illusion, but it’s not" (Dean in Eugenides 2006).
  • The Green Ray (Jay Gatsby)

    “Gatsby believed in the green light, The orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eludes us then, but that’s no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Fitzgerald 1983: 188).
  • The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

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