Crystalized Decay

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W. Biedermann, “On the meaning of the crystallization process in the generation of skeletons in inverterbrate animals, namely in mollusk shells”
Zeitschrift fur Allgemeine Physiologie Vol. 1, Taf. 3, Fig. 7

Sometimes one must destroy a structure in order to understand it.  In his text, physiologist W. Biedermann describes how, after bathing his mollusk shells in solutions of water and sodium carbonate, their substance begins to melt (“einschmiltzt”), resulting in a loss of regular form (“die regelmäßige Gestalt”).  This illustrated explosion of crystal blocks suspended above a page of empty white represent a moment in that break down, but also a field of irregularity.  The variegation between these forms — some opaque, some translucent, some beveled, others jagged or chipped — do not quite call to mind a puzzle whose parts fit together whole.  Instead, the process of disintegration has left the fragments of a bygone Gestalt, a register of disparate pieces, and given new meaning to the phrase “crystal clear”.

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