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Wilensky Gallery

173 10th St, New York, NY

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Opening Reception

Jan. 10th 5:00 - 7:00 PM

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Evan D’Arpino’s current series of photographs, Abiogenesis, explores the boundary between living and nonliving things, and asks us to reconsider how we choose to define life. Inspired by the possible cellular origin of recently discovered “giant viruses”, D’Arpino uses crystal specimens to evoke phenomena that complicate our understanding of life. Crystals, though nonliving, have the ability to grow, respond to environmental stimuli, and reach an equilibrium, thus demonstrating some of the required characteristics of a living organism. In turn, the images use these specimens to allude to systems such as viruses, prions, cities, and artificial intelligence, which more directly suggest an ambiguous boundary.

The dramatic use of light in D’Arpino’s photographs conjures the mystery of primordial genesis, as well as the excitement of scientific discovery. He emphasizes texture, color, and form to give the minerals lifelike qualities, while hinting at natural history museum specimens through the use of items like bell jars and plexiglass vitrines. Each photograph gives the impression of a self-contained atmosphere, implying a relationship between the specimens and their environment or other organisms. Abiogenesis not only uses these invented ecosystems to suggest the form of tangential living systems, but to also convey inter-organism relationships, such as Horizontal Gene Transfer, that have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the nature of life.