JENNIE E. PARK
And/Or I (2021)
2" x 16" x 12"
Reindeer lichen, litmus paper, wood, paint, fish line
What can we learn from the fact that litmus papers, as binary indicators, are able to change color due to lichens, which are symbiotic organisms?
How can the "and/or" -- i.e., "either/or" -- connoted by litmus paper be informed by the "and/or" -- i.e., "both" -- of lichens, where lichens are fungi-algae composites that extend their inherent mutualism to the environments and substrates they inhabit?
While the "or" of the litmus test is exclusive, the "or" of lichens reflects the Boolean (inclusive) "or." As the "and" of lichens recursively stems from their core, it unveils the latency of blue in red litmus paper, and vice versa. "And," then, suggests that by virtue of being one thing (blue), it is able to be another (red, and vice versa) through interaction with the environment; in a sense, it is always both blue and red at once.
If we become conscious of and examine the process by which mutualist lichens become paper test tools -- awakening from the spell of a "normal" that ubiquitously converts "things we are" into "things we use" -- can we more clearly see ourselves in and as others?