Chloroplasts are cellular subunits in plants, which conduct photosynthesis. Artificial plants do not conduct photosynthesis in order to stay green. They are supposed to be evergreen low-maintenance items of domestic and corporate decoration. Yet, they still change their appearance through time.
The ongoing project Chloroplastics is inspired by classical 18th-century botanical illustrations, in particular the drawings by Ferdinand Bauer, whose works Flora Graeca and Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae are major influences on the series.
With Chloroplastics, the act of studying a natural plant specimen in detail and creating a visual representation of it, is applied to plastic flowers, which are already representations themselves. Rather than merely cataloguing individual fake plants into a photographic herbarium, Chloroplastics explores whether these plants show any signs of withering, such as fading colours, abrasion, or dust.
To do so, the series diverts from the neutral representation of classical illustrations in that the specimen are directly exposed to the camera’s flash, a substitute for the sun, paralleling the plants’ artificiality. This recreation of the sunlight provides for strong contrasts, partly hiding, at closer look exposing the plants artificial character.
In these ways the aforementioned forms of weathering become visible, such as the greens that sometimes fade into turquoise and blue hues. Apart from this close and rather visual analysis, the project also hints at the contexts these plants are placed in, trying to answer where and why people prefer the substitute rather than the ephemeral beauty of the original.