Building an immortal library


Workshop by artist Joe Davis was specially designed for the 5th Ural Biennale and is a continuation of the long-term project "Philosopher's Stones". As part of the project, Davis investigates ancient mineral salts, in which living organisms - halophilic bacteria - have existed for hundreds of millions of years.

Three days of the workshop were devoted to "stitching" information into salt crystals by integrating halophiles into them. The information recorded in the DNA of the halophiles is the image of the death of Koshchei the Immortal. The crystals have transformed into an almost immortal archive and have kept the message for hundreds of millions of years.

The original name of the workshop - ConstructinganAmaranthineLibrary - refers to Aesop's fable "Rose and Velvet", in which an inconspicuous plant, Velvet, praises the rose for its beauty and reputation, to which the rose sadly replies that its life is short, while the time of Velvet (the name means "life short ") immortal flower") is eternal.

Curator - Olga Vad, head of art and science at the Polytechnic Museum. Scientific consultant - Ippolit Markelov, bioartist, researcher at SK Biolab and member of the 18 Apple group.

Joe Davis researches salt in search of halophilic microorganisms. Not many before Joe tried to sterilize salt before testing, meaning their samples were contaminated with other organisms. And he decided to treat the crystals with a poisonous gas, ethylene oxide, making sure that this would reliably sterilize them from external impurities.


And later he tried to grow cultures from those microorganisms that were "locked" inside. He did it. One of the organisms lived in Himalayan salt, which is 250 million years old.


Davis began collecting salt samples from other places, he was interested in the primary crystals, preserved unchanged. He claims that from them he managed to grow microorganisms up to 485 million years old (Irkutsk salt).