7/16/14

Carnivorous Plants Part 1

Environmental science, botany, and ecology are becoming huge passions of mine, and I'm going to begin documenting my discoveries here. Ever since losing out on a summer job opportunity to learn and talk to the public about carnivorous plants, I've decided to pursue learning about them on my own. These are just some beautiful photographs and facts about specific types of carnivorous plants, which I acquired from National Geographic.

Drosera regia
 South African king sundew. Its leaves can reach 2 feet in length.

Drosera stolonifera
Bugs are drawn to what look like dew drops, but then find themselves entangled in sticky tentacles.

Nepenthes lowii
 A tropical pitcher plant attracts bugs with its sweet smell, but bugs find themselves slipping on the plants slippery surface and into its open maw.

Dionaea muscipula
 The Venus flytrap uses electricity to capture its prey. When one or more of its surface hairs are brushed twice, which is an energy-saving system used to detect prey from other stimuli, a electrical charge signals cells on the outside of the plant to expand, morphing the plant bodies shape from convex to concave and snapping the two lobes shut. The hair-like spikes on the end of the lobes are called cilia, and when the lobes close they mesh together inexactly, allowing small prey to escape so the plants energy isn't wasted digesting small prey that can't provide it with sufficient nutrients. 

Nepenthes alata
 Here the silhouettes of two bugs can be seen. The red color at the top of the plant has a waxy texture, preventing bugs from climbing out of the plant as enzymes at the bottom of the tube leach nutrients form the bugs.

Sarracenia flava
Plants require nitrogen in order to survive, but since most carnivorous plants live in bogs and nutrient poor areas, they rely on consuming bugs and insects to attain the nitrogen their environment doesn't possess.

Sarracenia hybrid
To avoid consuming pollinators, pitcher plants keep their flowers as far from their traps as possible via long stems.

Darlingtonia californica
 This California pitcher plant grows in mountainous parts of the West Coast and is an oddity among its kind. Unlike other pitcher plants, its leaves contain no digestive enzymes, and instead it relies on symbiotic bacteria to turn captured insects into usable nutrients.

Sarracenia hybrid
Carnivory is certainly not the most efficient way to acquire nutrients, but it is certainly an exotic adaptation.

Sarracenia flava
Some scientists believe that this stalks squiggly vertical vein is intended as a ladder to guide potential prey to the plants trap. Others argue that it's structural reinforcement. Nonetheless, this species can grow up to 3 feet tall, and often tips over when overfilled with rainwater or the husks of prey. 



3/3/14

Francesca Woodman

Pieces from my most recent journal.
I love to write.

Stanza 1:
I want to have a complex conversation with you, so slow down and hit the breaks for me. Just listen with all your senses so you can taste my flavor with your tongue.

Stanza 2:
There is some innate terror in making a decision, a comprehensible choice that cannot be altered.

Stanza 3:
I feel as though I am becoming more and more closed off from others as well as myself, like I am trapped behind a fence of my own insanity. I wonder if I am stifling my own ability to interact and communicate or if I am losing my ability to relate and communicate entirely, and I wonder whether or not I ever  had this ability to begin with.

Stanza 4:
I will lace my body with strings of snake scales and venom, standing nude in a shower behind a clear plastic curtain. Bowed legs and dry toes will grip tiled floor as I stick out my arm, palm to the camera and fingers spread apart like countries at war, refusing to surrender. 

Stanza 5:
I am an artist I need to be but I feel talentless and I have no vision I am a failure I feel unable to ever successfully create anything I am furious I want to destroy everything in front of me I am furious I have no talent no vision nothing I feel like nothing I am blank paper.

Stanza 6:
In this instant I feel like I am slowly dying. My art is killing me. I am not an artist. I am pitiful. I feel like I am Francesca Woodman. I wonder if one day my creation will kill me. I despise art because everything I createfails me. I cannot create. I love none of my work. It is fully and completely amateur. I want to be like Francesca Woodman. I want my art to be incredible.

Stanza 7:
Out of all the words I want to say
I've chosen the ones in front of me. 

Stanza 8:
It comes in waves that rock you
That rearrange the sand in your dunes.

Stanza 9:
It blankets you like tree bark,
gray,  black, and ashen
welds down the metal
as sparks fly.

A poem:
I am alive.
I am cold breath watered down
Into paste to pave sidewalks.
I am skin gripping bone with
Webbed toes that swim in ice.
I am paint smeared fingernails
Grasping glass window panes that
Feel pain because I am not an 
Artist I simply observe with all
My senses. My veins are
Waterways like aqueducts and they
Pore concrete down my 
Throat when I sleep but I
Still breathe. Like carriers of 
A disease my mind sends
Me messages and I step speak
Swallow see smell hear my
Own thoughts above all other
Voices soon to be lost in 
My own vined jungle but I 
See sky like earth and I
Step on the concrete and walk
Towards blindness because I really can't
See and that's why I wear
Glasses so I can sharpen the 
Blurred lines along with the
Pencil in my hand. Because if 
I don't record and connect
And create a concrete lineage
Of lives lost and linked I will
Step in cracked concrete and
Fall endlessly like dropped kitchenware
And crash and shatter like
A dish on stripped linoleum.
So to make it last I shade gray 
And make marks so my body
Can speak swallow see smell
And hear before blindness
Finds me and I fall and slip
Against cemented cracks in 
Concrete.

I recently watched The Woodmans, and I feel as though my life has been altered significantly (check it out via Netflix). It's odd how the moments that are supposed to change us, like kisses and sex and school and travel lack impact in comparison to the small moments that shake us like shattered glass. My life has been significantly made different from the small moments and experiences, many of which I have created myself. My words and thoughts bring me closer to conclusions I long to make, movies and books stretch my perspectives like elastic. And with this movie, it happened again.

The documentary profiles photographer Francesca Woodman's parents, who discuss her work, career, and suicide. The film creates an intimate portrait of an incredibly talented artist, and while her story is sad, the beauty of her work never escapes you. Her photographs are shown constantly throughout the film, and they are so beautiful and different and startling and creative that I could stare at each one for hours and be completely content and mystified. The movie greatly inspired me, and I could not help but feel a sense of fury when I realized that I would never be as talented, progressive, and inspirational as Francesca Woodman.

The film speaks for itself, and I would rather not discuss it at length, for when others explain their own connections to a film, it often seems we search for those same connections when we watch it. But that is irrational, and often leads to disappointment, for the ways this film will speak to you will be far different from how it spoke to me, and I do not want to influence your expectations. I hope you watch it though, and when you watch it do not search for life altering moments, because if you do you won't find them. But hopefully you watch it and enjoy it as much as I did.









All images taken by Francesca Woodman.