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We have launched a new image collection, dubbed Carved in Carbon. Our interest is strictly aesthetic but we hope it will serve plant and flower lovers seeking information as well.  We invite you to visit the site and to provide your own input.  We are not botanists and would warn researchers to be aware of the labels we've given the plants. Mistakes are possible.  If you are like us and just want to marvel at the variety of form and color that nature so generously provides, we hope the images do their incredible subjects the justice they deserve. 

There's talk in nanotechnology circles about recreating a building process in which carbon molecules are preprogrammed to self replicate, echoing a blueprint first evolved in natural processes some 400 million years ago. As complex a technology as is self replication, is of course only the starting point for something much more significant: adaptation. Through trial, error, and, yes, chance, our place in the evolution of senses, cognition and ultimately the capacity to project not only what is but what might be, has led to this precipitous moment in our own history and perhaps that of the planet we, most likely willl only temporarily, dominate.

What we find in Charles Darwin's thinking is a retrospective explanation of how variety and extended properties served species in their competition to establish and expand niches within an ever shifting and varied environment. What is the most sublime of properties in our own species, however, is transcendence of material, be it of sense or sensibility. Within a strictly deterministic framework, we could understand the utility of sound, sight, smell and touch as building blocks in diversity. Imagination allows us to evaluate not only what is but what might occur, providing us with a clear advantage over the other species on the planet.

Conceptually, nanotechnology, as envisioned by some, takes nature as its archetype for self replication. But Cloning might be a better way to express what's envisioned by these engineers. In nature, it is in the very determination of a specie's "self replication" through the other, or propagation, that nature employs its fullest and most potent arsenal of form, color, sound, odor and tactility. This new series, Carved in Carbon, might just as well have been called Carved by Survival. The vivid colors, shapes and odors of the various blooming plants were evolved, obviously not for our own benefit but rather for that of the flying and crawling insects that serve as vectors in plant propagation. Where we, as a species enter in this process, is in the number of hybrids that appear in many of our gardens. In that sense we have become active players in both the propagation and destruction of species.

What we've intended to do here, and will continue to do as the seasons change, is marvel in, and attempt to capture in pixel, the variety and beauty of the shapes and colors nature, lately with the help of man, has developed in the reproductive and structural strategies of its flora. It's the intensity and subtlety of the various hues, the patterning, the shapes, the plasticity, the abstraction of message of nature's carbon compounds that we wanted to contrast with the durable, mainly historical, (stone) sculpture we find in our Carved in Stone images.

Stone, as we've noted, signifies our societies struggle for permanence, a barrier against decay but also, more sublimely, a membrane between the material and the transcendent. The bloom or the well formed leaf is, like us, always in a state of metamorphosis. It is seasonal, of limited duration, a means to propagate the seed of another season. Flora has taught us all we know about color if not pattern, we can only imagine the first time one of us plucked one to give as a gift to another.  

We invite you to enjoy the images as much as we enjoy the process of taking them.  Our goal is strictly aesthetic based on wonder. We also hope there will enough didactic information to make the collection(s) useful to visitors interested in knowing about a particular plant. In this regard, there is a caveat emptor, we are decidedly not botanists and are capable of making glaring errors in the labeling  process.  Please let us know where we need to make corrections.  We also appreciate any feedback on the pictures and subject matter.

rmb