marentus (honeycomb in Latin) is a project series driven by an optical beehive inhabited by a colony of honeybees. Inside this artefact, two parallel physical-chemical laboratories were habilitated, both subjected to the same environmental conditions. This allowed for the transformation of the flower nectar into honey, and the silver bromide into an analogical image.The image that laid behind could only be extracted by consuming the honey and wax from the hive, and was unleashed and revealed through collective ingestions of the beehive. These actions have taken place in Santander (marentus’) and Barcelona (marentus’’).
marentus is a camera, an apis melifera beehive in which a photosensitive plate is inserted, thus transforming it into an optical beehive. Light enters through pinholes made in the surface of the hive opposite the negative, sensitising it and recording the bees dwelling in the intermediary space. Their activity unfolds between the photosensitive material and the pinholes, coexisting with the silver gelatin over the course of 104 days in marentus’ and 587 days in marentus’’.
This habitat is an ecosystem in which photographic paper soaked in silver halides, bee’s wax, honeycomb, honey, sunlight and beekeepers synergistically produce a long exposure image.
Once the photographic material is introduced into the hive, an incompatible photosensitive relationship unfolds. The photographic material requires photons to record the image; the bees clog any hole through which sunlight can enter with propolis, since wax production can only occur in darkness or half-light.
The optical hive is a space that keeps the photosensitive material precariously isolated from the outside. The sensitivity of the silver emulsion goes beyond light; it also reacts to other types of radiation, time, temperature, various particles, humidity, touch, photons and pressure.
The hive, loaded with honey, wax and image, rests in the inactinic space like a fossil to be explored.
To reveal the negative, found in its innermost part, a gap must be opened through the honey and wax, separating them once again through a biochemical process. Here, the image was captured while the bees constructed the hive during the months of solar exposure.
In order to do so, a large group of people were summoned to suckle away at the wax cells for hours and eat the kilos of honey kept within, until the image could finally be extracted. Saliva, this time human, acted as a catalyzer, dissolving the bonds of the structure and triggering an accelerated process of decay of the material that the bees’ saliva had constructed.
The photograph shows the collective memory of the bees in this space during this interval of time. We cannot distinguish the traces of a single bee from those of the collective. Their movements were inscribed one on top of the other, as they simultaneously retraced the marks and grooves made by the impact of the photons on the photosensitive silver halides.