'A Sperm A Day'
January 1 – December 31, 2007

                              1 Woman
                                          1 Crochet Hook
                                          2 Hands
                                        36 Kg. Copper Wire
                                      365 Days
                                      771 Hrs. of Crochet in Public Spaces
                                    3353 Conversations about:
                                             The genesis, life and death of sperm
                                             The future of life and handwork

Frequently asked questions:

Why sperm?

It all began with making pregnant mermaids and the mother and daughter mermaids that followed. In the course of making them, one question quite naturally arose.

Question:        How do mermaids become pregnant?
Answer:          They swim through a school of sperm.

Armed with a 3.5 mm crochet hook and a 100 g roll of 0,50mm copper wire, I began producing sperm sporadically in public in 2005.

And what conversations took place. Many of them were filled with interesting information and anecdotes about sperm and fertility issues. But just as many of the conversations showed just how little the average person knows about sperm when asked for specifics.

Then came the ‘Viva’ performance festival in Montreal in 2006 for which the performance “How many sperm can a woman produce in 24 hours?” was conceived:  a bordello setting, fairy-tale like action juxtaposed with a video projection on issues confronting sperm today.

And in doing research for the video, I realized that the question of how many sperm a woman might be able to produce is not necessarily an idle one. Recent years have seen an alarming decrease in sperm production and an increase in sperm mutations in a wide range of species, including humans.

What a coincidence when in April 2007, in the middle of the project, the news broke: Scientists had produced immature human sperm from bone marrow stem cells. And the question of whether women might really be able to produce sperm themselves in the future arose.

Why crochet?

Over the last century or so in developed nations handwork has gone from being an everyday necessity to being a luxury. “I don’t have the time for it,” so many people say.

Yet handwork is all about taking time, about taking a pause from the hectic pace of modern life, about finding a contemplative space in the mind where fantasy can take flight, and practicing patience while performing a hands-on act of creation.

Why wire?

Wire manipulated with handwork techniques has been my medium of choice since the late 90s. Since then, I’ve been creating a wire world with the background question of whether technology, and wire — such an important component of modern technology and communication — might one day supplant life.

Because of its malleable character, wire is also an ideal material for creating 3-dimensional ‘sketch–shells’ of living creatures. Producing sperm in the medium of crocheted copper wire gives them a certain ‘aliveness,’ not only because of the way the weight corresponds to their proportions and  flexibility, but also because of the fact that every millimeter of the wire passes through my living hands.

Why crochet wire sperm in public spaces?
The minimalist act of crocheting wire in public environments, whether sperm or other forms, seems to act as a magnet for conversation, inviting comments and questions, whether on the meaning and necessity of handwork in our modern world today, on the symbolism of sperm, or on the reason why a woman would decide to choose to produce them.

As a result, crocheting sperm in public spaces provided fertile ground for sharing and gathering ideas for flights of fancy.


What is the Sperm Register?

Producing sperm led to people wanting to name them. The Sperm Register provides a record of the names people donated to the various sperm, their birthplaces, a color or color-combination.


What are the the Spermblogs?

With the decision to crochet a year’s worth of sperm and the desire to take a more ‘scientific’ approach to the endeavor, it seemed important to record how the sperm would evolve over the year, as well as a selection of the impressions and issues that arose in conversations had while producing them.

The ‘scientific’ basis I chose as the ‘DNA’ for the sperm crochet pattern was that of the Fibonacci Numbers since they play such a fundamental role in the shapes and forms of the natural world.

The Lorenz Manifold pattern published by the mathematicians Hinke M. Osinga & Bernd Krauskopf provided the next link. The pattern they created consists of seemingly chaotic sequences of numbers referring to the stitches in which you have to add (and at times decrease) stitches.

Yet, when one calculates the difference between the numbers, what appears is a series of numbers in which there is a pattern that recurs at chaotic intervals with minor variations. These in-between numbers form the order in the chaos.

In the pattern for the sperm, the Fibonacci Numbers form the pattern in between. Spermblogs I and II show the steps in the development of this Fibonacci-based pattern. The drawings in Spermblogs III–VI sketch the evolution in the use of two colors in each sperm. The Arabic numerals in Spermblogs V and VI indicate counterclockwise crochet. 

Why do the sperm made over the year look so different?
The first three and a half months of crocheting sperm were an experimental phase when I was playing with variations on a sperm pattern based on the Fibonacci Numbers and using only three colors. Once I had found the ‘ideal’ pattern, I began using two colors in each sperm and other factors increasingly came into play.

Although the Fibonaci-based pattern provided an order, various other factors introduced chaos into the equation:
1.         Concentration and mood and environment
2.         The fact that the different chemical composition of the lacquers on the wire or how they are applied affect flexibility, manageability and speed with which the wire moves through the fingers
3.         Changing from one color to the other often leads to dents, bumps and other irregularities
4.         Crocheting in two different directions. Counterclockwise crocheting leads to more robust, solid, rounded sperm.




The >>Sperm-A-Day<<>