The Diatomist

Diatoms are at the bottom of the food chain, and provide sustenance for many sea creatures. If you can see the tiny things, you'll find they come in a amazing variety. At one time, they were used as an art media! Filmmaker Matthew Killip made a documentary about the last remaining master of the art of arranging diatoms.

Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science.

It’s extremely difficult work, but the complex kaleidoscopic results are stunning. Continue reading to see more of Kemp’s diatom art and the video about him.

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