Claire Pentecost

Earth Oculi, 2015–2018
Soil chromatography on filter paper

Developed by scientists in the mid-twentieth century, soil chromatography is a method for quickly and qualitatively assessing the composition and relative health of soil. These sunburst-like images emerge as a slurry of soil is poured through the filter paper and its many organic and mineral components seep towards the edges at different speeds, leaving the striated, ring-like patterns. Produced from soil collected from watersheds in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, the chromatographs loosely map where the soils were sampled, forming a kind of geographic constellation. The variation in hues and patterns make visible the distinct geology, biology, and cultural histories of each site, both abstractly and indexically.

Courtesy of the artist.