By Megan Gambino
Since seeing his first diatom arrangement—an intricate pattern of algae crafted by German microscopist J.D. Möller—Matthew Killip has been enthralled with the Victorian art form. “I love seeing the hand of man display the work of nature so beautifully,” he says.
Almost immediately, the British filmmaker had two questions. First, how did these 19th-century artists manage to assemble diatoms, each just microns long, into dazzling shapes invisible to the naked eye? And secondly, is anyone still working in this medium?
Killip’s search for answers led him to Klaus Kemp, the only living practicioner. He spent an afternoon with the eccentric Englishman, cameras rolling, and produced the documentary, seen above, called “The Diatomist.” The short film was released this week.
I interviewed Killip by email to find out more about this lost art:
What exactly is a diatom?
Diatoms are microscopic single-cell algae housed in beautiful glass shells. There are hundreds of thousands of varieties of diatoms all with unique forms.
Read more here.