Exploratorius Redux

Atelier Aquarell & Fotografie

Art — Then And Now


I thought it would be worth trying to see if I could replicate the viewpoint that I had when I painted the watercolor scene in the upper left en plein air back in 1989.

A notice about the biofilm covering the exterior of the Jefferson Memorial
Washington, DC — April 2018
iPhone 6S + 29/2.2

It turns out that I could get fairly close to the exact location, but not match it entirely, as the National Park Service has now put up a nasty-looking fence to keep people out of all the green areas surrounding the Jefferson Memorial.

Also, when I began to look more closely, I noticed that the foliage had grown up around the memorial, one tree with a branch that had a distinctive upward hook to it was now gone, and the memorial itself looked filthy and run-down.

However, that filth is not what it seems… it’s not a sign of neglect.  It’s called “black slime”, it’s actually a biofilm that’s affecting monuments world-wide now, and the National Park Service — after years of failed attempts to clean the DC monuments — finally appears to have an answer for it.

Lasers.  Industrial-grade lasers.

Unlike manually scrubbing or using harsh chemicals — which can damage and wear down the stone over time — lasers can be specifically “tuned” for a certain color frequency, and when properly adjusted, will burn away the offending biofilm and leave behind a surface that’s just as pristine as when it was first constructed.

But don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself in the following image:

Laser ablation to the biofilm on the dome of the Jefferson Memorial
Washington, DC — April 2018
Sony RX100 V + Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70/1.8-2.8

The things you notice if you return over-and-over to the same location during the course of many months, years — and yes — even decades.

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