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Marentus ‘I

“Marentus” (means honeycomb in Latin) is a wooden artefact reconvert in an optical beehive inhabited by a colony of honeybees. In its inside we have habilitated two parallel physical-chemical laboratories. Both of them are subjected to the same environmental conditions and thus allow the bees to transform the flower nectar into honey and the silver bromide in an analogical image. The result, of this double-faced alchemic process, is an inaccessible image that promotes other kind of sensory experiences and incites a non-visual approximation where chance, collective action and imagination take part in the creative process.

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Marentus ‘II. Optic Behive exposure. Wood, lenses, silver gelatine, wax, honey and bees. Cantabria 2014.

The optical beehive is a vertical apis mellifera-mellifera honeycomb with a portable plate, fitted in a geometric manner so light goes through the grids and thus impacting in a photosensible material. The negative has been influenced for more than three months by the bees’ lives and their activity: covering any element with wax and in their pursuit of darkness, sealing the pinholes with wax and honey to avoid the light coming into the beehive.

The resulting image after four months of exposure, has recorded the activity of the bees. The photosensible material superimposes the image due to the weak landscape projection. In this process the bees, that hate to have their hives invaded by light, try to inject propolis onto the lenses, obstructing the recording device. Paradoxically, the imaged obtained can only be preserved by the absolute darkness. The photograph traces decay when disturbed by any light.

In parallel, another biological process has occurred, the production of honey and wax by the worker bees. The cultural importance of both processes is immeasurable. Honey is an excellent natural preserving substance with remarkable duration. Historically, it is accredited to have magic properties, as multiple mythologies and popular stories manifest. Wax, on the contrary, is historically used as a pagan product used by the villager, and closely related to witchcraft, ointments and poison.

The inauguration act consisted in a collective experience, a feast or celebration with a participative character by which the attendees extracted honey and chew the wax from the optical honeycomb in order to develop the negatives.