My name is Raewyn Martyn.

You can get in touch by emailing: raewyn.martyn@gmail.com

An excerpt from my PhD candidacy, February 2019:

As an introduction…

I am researching biopolymer painting mediums, reading and writing about the histories and politics of petro-chemical polymers and biopolymers.

Polymers—plastics—are entangled chains that create mass; polymeric substances are many molecules held together in this way.

Biopolymers are often created from glucose molecules, found in the cell walls of plants and in secretions of many marine and terrestrial organisms. Humans have used more or less extractive processes to produce human-made biopolymers for a long time.

The history of industrially produced biopolymers runs in parallel to development of theories of materialism from the 19th century onward. Their latency within the 20th C is a result of petro-hegemony and the dominance of petro-chemical polymers. The future of biopolymers might escape this.

Composite biopolymer materials can behave as biofilms—membrane-like substrates hospitable to pigment-producing microbial communities. They are activated through specific atmospheric conditions; moisture, light, and heat, along with forces like gravity and pressure. Such biofilms, anthropogenic or otherwise, adhere to surfaces; pebbles in a riverbed, arterial walls, cave walls, abattoir floors, and our teeth.

Biopolymer paint can create two-dimensional coatings and three-dimensional forms that change over time—often in material response to heat, humidity, and UV exposure. I work with this medium in a site-responsive way to create skin-like surfaces or membranes, and more discrete objects.

Visual and affective languages of these materials are different from conventional paint and resonate with interconnected processes of entropy and empathy—processes of perception and transformation—within the social and physical world. I’m asking how these paintings produce—and are produced—through these processes. And how this changes our material relationships.

What happens when paint moves between liquid and solid, and back again? Between surface and object? Or, if paintings are produced through human and non-human collaborations and manifestations?



I make site-responsive paintings composed and recomposed during attentive occupation of sites or situations. These works change over time and challenge the stability and temporality of painted surface, medium, and site. New forms are grafted into the existing site guided by intuition, incident, or psychic and perceptive processes of attunement.

I sometimes think of my interventions or installations as survivalist; not survivalist in a catastrophic sense, but in the sense that the subjective and intersubjective experience they produce survives exposure and absorption into social space. This work also seeks to understand how processes of entropy and empathy are intertwined within phenomenological experience. Our capacity to experience and understand entropy in the processes and ‘others’ around us, is entwined with our ability to deeply observe, and to experience empathy; to understand changes within and outside.

My current research, develops use of biopolymer as painting medium. Polymers like cellulose are found in the cell walls of plants and in secretions of many marine and terrestrial organisms, these origins become ambiguous or hybrid when integrated into a composite film. I make an emulsion that can carry pigment, and holds or releases form during hydration, dehydration, and rehydration, and through use of heat. Within this cycle the work exists in multiple states; liquid, surface, image, and three-dimensional object.

Forms or images change as gravity and flow act within drying surfaces. This is includes moments of entropy as the unstable material dries in conflicting layers, pulling itself apart as it shrinks, or responds to atmospheric conditions: light, humidity, heat, and air flow. The processes of entropy are complicated by its ability to reabsorb liquid to become fluid again.


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