Sometimes I think I have explored this entire garden, wandered through all its paths, roamed up all its hills, and admired all the views.

Lost in reverie, I suddenly detect another pathway once again…

Alysia Michelle James
Ben Betts
Maria Ferreira


The National Science Foundation
The GLAS Animation Grant
The Kahr Research Group

Aden Kahr

Premiered at MONSTRA Animation Festival in Lisbon, Portugal.

This experimental animation features the enigmatic bodies of dyed crystals grown by Maria Ferreira and by Dr. Bart Kahr, the lead scientist at the Kahr Research Group who has worked on growing these types of crystals throughout the past 30 years. The film is an embroidery of thousands of crystals documented in a unique way she discovered utilizing scanners. A once relevant practice in materials science, Ferreira learned the lost art and science of growing painted crystals during my artist residence in the chemistry laboratory of the Kahr Research Group at New York University.

The obscure practice of growing dyed crystals, a once relevant practice in materials science, has become obsolete. Through my recent work, I became interested in reviving this process. I aimed to reimagine and reanimate a large collection of crystals into a moving painting, while calling into question their relevance as art objects. Every morning for the past year, my day began with the same ritual. As soon as I arrived at my studio, I harvested crystals growing from the water baths I had assembled the day before. Born over-night in several aqueous solutions containing salt-based chemicals and different colored dyes, small hexagonal crystals containing fascinating three-dimensional dye patterns materialize out of seemingly nowhere by a remarkable self-generative process. Even after growing thousands of them, every new crystal I fished out from the water baths sparked a renewed sense of perplexity. There is something so primitive about them, as if they belong to a bygone era in the earth’s history, yet incredibly futuristic, as if they were made by machines ahead of our time. Suspended in time and space, they hover in the boundary between synthetic and natural, past and future, life and death. They are fascinating entities that exude the organization that sustains all life.

Exhibited in conjunction with the film as an immersive installation, these dyed crystals collections play with the public’s perception as they draw meaningful connections between the imagery of the moving images and the objects in front of them.