Contagion III



Had I possessed the leisure, Fundania, I should write in a more serviceable form from what I must set forth as I can, reflecting that I must hasten: for if man is a bubble, as the proverb has it, all the more so is an old man.     Marcus Terentius Varro (116 - 27 B.C.)

The Roman scholar's manuscript documents the primary source of text referencing an association between man and a bubble.

In 1500, Dutch philosopher Erasmus published Adagiorum Collectanea, a compilation of proverbs extracted from Classical Greek and Latin literature. Each listing was attributed to the original author, translated and given meaning. The first Adagio (and subsequent Adages), published throughout his life, were well received throughout De Nederlanden society, the ease of comprehension appealed to the common man and scholars alike.

Artists were inspired by the Adages and began to incorporate the now symbolic 'bubble' into their allegorical, Vanitas paintings, (the moral narrative of Vanitas advocated religious piety). Initially, a bubble denoted the relationship between man and his indeterminate moment of death - Homo Bulla, and inferred longevity is questionable, but death is certain. Over time, the correlation between bubble, loss and uncertainty evolved to encompass love, wealth and material possessions. As a result, the bubble became a pertinent symbol of representation for artists.

The forethought to chronicle proverbial language was prophetic, had Erasmus not anticipated the significance of collating ancient classical proverbs, many metaphors in use today may have been lost forever and the bubble as a representative symbol in art may have remained inconsequential.




The bubble's metaphoric representation in art is rooted to a classical proverb and enshrined in historical context. Traditional symbolism associates the bubble to the unpredictable moment when something cherished and irreplaceable is lost forever: a life, love, material possessions or wealth.

Bubbles, soap films and foams are primary subjects of research in many scientific disciplines resulting in a diverse range of applications and daily use products; personal hygiene and household cleaning, metal foams (aluminium etc.), packaging, glass, plastics, fire extinguisher and oil spill recovery foams and soap film science provides meteorologists with a tool to help understand and predict weather systems. The first and subsequent lightweight, tensile roof structures hail from soap films. The list is endless. There is so much more to bubbles than the obvious.

Science has proven bubble phenomena is often reflected in nature. Artists and scientists look to nature for inspiration and confirmation. Historical art symbolism, science and nature is the foundation of my practice. I need to see and learn something new all the time ... always. New art works and scientific research provide a perpetual source of inspiration and I seek interconnecting relationships to pursue together with my own personal experiences. This correlation is important to myself and my work, each element forms a link in a chain contextus the final, printed photograph is always the last link.

I design and construct new sets for each shoot and design the lighting rigs for photographing. Each bubble solution is made up according to what it is I want to photograph, sometimes a solution can take months to reach the working consistency. I refer to myself as an ArtScience practitioner and categorise my work into the ArtScience genre.

All Images ©2017 Kym Cox   All Rights Reserved