This year, I started reading about the history of microscopes, and while there was mention of “water-filled” microscopes “in ancient China,” English-language accounts spoke of these in vague, almost mythological terms. Maybe because the history is actually lost – intentionally or not – or because it is inaccessible to English-language scholars. Where are those records, and who were those people? What were their lives like?
Imagining and rebuilding a future that has more space for non-dominant cultures requires more than theory, and more than action; Instruments for Multiple Worlds is a future world-building project as much as it is a prototyping of lost pasts. It’s this reasoning that inspires me to craft artifacts which support ancestral knowledge, and which nourish creativity and joy.
I’m now working on an illustrated essay about this series of microscopes, their acupuncture needle joysticks which enable physical contact with the microcosmos, and the shaping of a visual, material, and sensory experience in micro-narrative work.
I’m open to limited commissions/inquiries for borrowing or purchasing one of these microscopes, in exchange for barter or funds depending on your situation.
I’m grateful to be building ideas among ppl like Sadie Prego/@djespiral (Anti-Assimilation), Ananda Gabo (Ancestral Science) and inspired by so many more; worldmaker Aisha Jandosova who I work with daily, Dr Max Liboiron who asks students to imagine a feminist microscope, Sandra Harding on successor sciences, afrotectopia for exploring and imagining futures and pasts.
Images CC-BY-SA Jeffrey Yoo Warren
Jeffrey Yoo Warren is an artist, community scientist, illustrator, and researcher in Providence, Rhode Island.