Oltramarino was formed as a result of a collaboration between the artist, Louise Mackenzie and the department of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University, UK. It is a collection of short essays from artists, scientists and philosophers on what it means to be human in a micro-biological age.
Like the ‘oltramarino’ of Rennaissance Italy, cyanobacteria possess that unattainable quality of the colour blue, of beyond the seas and beyond the skies. We are continually expanding our sphere of knowledge, but the power it brings is not a constant. Science increases knowledge in the manner of light shining into infinite darkness. Look beyond our own existence and we can see the edges of the known future: billions of bacteria of which only a miniscule percentage has been identified, evidence of water (and hence the possibility of life) on planets far beyond our reach. Science is the light that we cast, the future that we can begin to comprehend. Beauty, awe and mystery are found at the edges of the spectrum. It is this sublime that Oltramarino celebrates: the glimmers of light in the infinite darkness.