SLIDE SHOW 1

The Glass Knife: An installation project by Steve Bradley and Kathy Marmor

Installation view: The Glass Knife
Installation view: The Glass Knife

THE GLASS KNIFE
An installation project by Steve Bradley and Kathy Marmor
Presented at the Library Gallery, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
April 26 – June 30, 2016

Dr. Keith Porter, chair of the UMBC Biology Department from 1984 to 1988, was one of the first scientists to study whole cells with the electron microscope and is considered the “Father of Cell Biology.” Porter’s desire to see, know and understand the particles and structures inside an intact cell called for a microscopic resolution far more detailed than could be obtained using any method of light microscopy. In 1945, while working with Albert Claude at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City, he produced the first image of an intact cell, made possible by the innovative slicing and specimen preparation techniques he developed for viewing and photographing with the electron microscope.

Keith Porter portrait, C 1950

Porter’s experience in experimental embryology and histology, along with his talent in interpreting the highly magnified images he produced, enabled him to infer the functional activities of cell organelles and microtubules. For his breakthrough work, Porter was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1977.

First published electron micrograph of an animal cell: The first published electron micrograph of an animal cell (1945). In this whole mount of a chick embryonic fibroblast cultured on a plastic film, the thin cell margins permitted viewing of “filamentous mitochondria” as well as a “delicate lace-work extending throughout the cytoplasm” that Porter later named the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Magnification: X5600 [K. R. Porter et al., J. Exp. Med. 81:233.]
First published electron micrograph of an animal cell: The first published electron micrograph of an animal cell (1945). In this whole mount of a chick embryonic fibroblast cultured on a plastic film, the thin cell margins permitted viewing of “filamentous mitochondria” as well as a “delicate lace-work extending throughout the cytoplasm” that Porter later named the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Magnification: X5600 [K. R. Porter et al., J. Exp. Med. 81:233.]

Porter’s experience in experimental embryology and histology, along with his talent in interpreting the highly magnified images he produced, enabled him to infer the functional activities of cell organelles and microtubules. For his breakthrough work, Porter was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1977.

Files of Keith Porter's papers in  the Center for Biological Sciences Archives, Albin O. Kuhn Library Special Collections, UMBC
Files of Keith Porter’s papers in the Center for Biological Sciences Archives, Albin O. Kuhn Library Special Collections, UMBC

For their collaborative project, The Glass Knife, Artists Steve Bradley and Kathy Marmor have mined UMBC’s archive of Keith Porter material to produce an installation of sculptures that explore Porter’s groundbreaking research, and celebrate a revolutionary vision, mediated by technology, that greatly extended scientific seeing, thinking, and practice. The title of their project refers to the sharp wedged shaped glass tool used by Porter to prepare his tissue samples.

Keith R. Porter’s archives, a complex and mixed collections of materials, are located in the four American institutions where Porter conducted research over the course of his bio-science career. UMBC’s Special Collections holdings include: lab records, experiment notes, research papers, notebooks, photographic prints, microscopic photographs and slides, glass negatives, glass prints, microscopes, awards, certificates, correspondence, personal and professional photographs, and materials relating to Porter’s professional association affiliations. The Keith R. Porter Collection is one of nineteen holdings that make up UMBC’s Center for Biological Sciences Archives (CBSA).

The Glass Knife selects elements from Porter’s archive to build a unified series of sculptures that allude to Porter’s workstation that “see” the cells, cell organelles, and the potential applications that Porter imagined.

Bradley and Marmor’s project weaves together the personal and public research sides of Porter’s life to create a portrait of a humanist, who embraced his intuitive hunches to inform his approach to a calculated and critical scientific approach.

For further information on THE GLASS KNIFE PROJECT, go to https://glassknife.wordpress.com/

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