QK567_Se1_Sea_Weeds_p022_PS4

Arguably amongst biologists, our oldest ancestor, our first breath, our first movement and our first physical form, undoubtedly beautiful, was the algae. Specifically, a blue-green Cyanophyta algae. “From the algae came oxygen and from oxygen came all of us,” wrote Jose Emilio Pacheco. Millions of years after being bacteria, protozoans, fish, reptiles, birds and who knows how many animals, we continue to share the world with algae, who is still responsible for providing and determining oxygen and nitrogen within marine ecosystems. We have for ourselves that the first sentence of the molecular chronicle of life on this planet is still around, still moving in submarine meadows by a silent wind.

The 19th century, in which the best and most extravagant obsessions flourished (where, if not then, was the poetic experience of naturalism truly invented?), saw a wave of fascination with seaweed. Testimony to this is a series of albums that not only inventoried species with taxonomy and descriptions but also accompanied them with a bookish narrative, as if to tell the essential history of an organic aesthetics that humans had hitherto overlooked.

20685412168_8e60374423_o

The layout of each algae on the page, framed with lace of paper or fabric, solicits the wonder and exploratory gaze of the beholder. The particularly fine examples presented here are from an album dedicated to Augustus Graham, a member of the first board of directors of the Apprentices’ Library of Brooklyn. This later became the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences at the Brooklyn Museum. The album was created by a woman named Eliza A. Jordson in recognition of Graham’s work.

The album contains, in addition to specimens of algae, an essay on the transference of algae to paper, and a poem entitled Flowers of the Sea.

Ah! call us not weeds —
We are flowers of the sea
For lovely and bright
And gay tinted are we —

We are quite independent
Of culture and showers
Then call us not weeds
We are ocean’s gay flowers.

20252386393_6231f4081e_o 20863748642_786eb4a077_o 20686650089_51a8c3c533_o 20686650319_4b1581b9b4_o 20685331620_7b4ebef8a9_o 20685333070_241a8f2b2e_o 20873402465_578484b0b1_o 20685409438_3e256c41e9_o 20686651339_2e97defe91_o 20250805924_42a1b97144_o 20686649529_38b804f067_o 20873399575_339a6190d8_o 20252387443_d668871d2d_o 20252387313_dfd7ac48a4_o

If we can enjoy the sight and dance of these algae in paper, we are therefore honoring an aesthetics that gave birth to the world as we know it, and be that sufficient in all.

.

QK567_Se1_Sea_Weeds_p022_PS4

Arguably amongst biologists, our oldest ancestor, our first breath, our first movement and our first physical form, undoubtedly beautiful, was the algae. Specifically, a blue-green Cyanophyta algae. “From the algae came oxygen and from oxygen came all of us,” wrote Jose Emilio Pacheco. Millions of years after being bacteria, protozoans, fish, reptiles, birds and who knows how many animals, we continue to share the world with algae, who is still responsible for providing and determining oxygen and nitrogen within marine ecosystems. We have for ourselves that the first sentence of the molecular chronicle of life on this planet is still around, still moving in submarine meadows by a silent wind.

The 19th century, in which the best and most extravagant obsessions flourished (where, if not then, was the poetic experience of naturalism truly invented?), saw a wave of fascination with seaweed. Testimony to this is a series of albums that not only inventoried species with taxonomy and descriptions but also accompanied them with a bookish narrative, as if to tell the essential history of an organic aesthetics that humans had hitherto overlooked.

20685412168_8e60374423_o

The layout of each algae on the page, framed with lace of paper or fabric, solicits the wonder and exploratory gaze of the beholder. The particularly fine examples presented here are from an album dedicated to Augustus Graham, a member of the first board of directors of the Apprentices’ Library of Brooklyn. This later became the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences at the Brooklyn Museum. The album was created by a woman named Eliza A. Jordson in recognition of Graham’s work.

The album contains, in addition to specimens of algae, an essay on the transference of algae to paper, and a poem entitled Flowers of the Sea.

Ah! call us not weeds —
We are flowers of the sea
For lovely and bright
And gay tinted are we —

We are quite independent
Of culture and showers
Then call us not weeds
We are ocean’s gay flowers.

20252386393_6231f4081e_o 20863748642_786eb4a077_o 20686650089_51a8c3c533_o 20686650319_4b1581b9b4_o 20685331620_7b4ebef8a9_o 20685333070_241a8f2b2e_o 20873402465_578484b0b1_o 20685409438_3e256c41e9_o 20686651339_2e97defe91_o 20250805924_42a1b97144_o 20686649529_38b804f067_o 20873399575_339a6190d8_o 20252387443_d668871d2d_o 20252387313_dfd7ac48a4_o

If we can enjoy the sight and dance of these algae in paper, we are therefore honoring an aesthetics that gave birth to the world as we know it, and be that sufficient in all.

.

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