Alessandra Baldissarelli Bremm, Mandy den Elzen, Clara Froumenty, Yanqi Huang

The Morphology of Fish Knowledge

How to create boxes and maintain the exhibition

A brief summary of the concept: The exhibition consists of making visible the beauty of fish gills from species that live in the waters around Mediamatic.The fish gills (17 for now) are displayed all around the glass walls of Aquaponics, in wooden boxes, horizontal and one per glass panel. The boxes are hanged on the walls metal frame with electric wire.

 Some materials and printed information about the exhibition can be found in one of the red boxes in the office. Look for the label: "Mandy den Elzen exhibition" / in the workshop room in front of the graphic design room.


The morphology of fish on opening day -


Google drive with all informations gathered so far :


What was done presentation : can be found here 

How to fix the exhibition presentation : be be found here


> Contacts : 

The artist:

Mandy den Elzen <>


The fisherman Piet Ruijter:


Ecologist Martin Melchers (Fish Species):



Previous interns curating the project (august 2019 - january 2020) :

Clara Froumenty <>

Yanqi Huang <>


> Alessandra's previous work :

Exhibition proposal (May 2019):


Article about Mandy's work and the exhibition on Mediamatic website, you can edit here:




Wooden Boxes Mahogany 30x40x6, with glass lid and without foam in the background:


Paint "Yippee Blue" (7519) The Color Collection, by the brand Histor:

(On the website there is no option of color sample, but if you go to the store they can make a 250ml can for less than 5 euro).


Block magnet 20 x 10 x 5 mm:


Silver Vinyl :

Sandblasted transparent matt Vinyl: Dusted €5 exl btw per meter 61cm wide, on SignSeen.

Zandstraal effect folie - Dusted V961 - 61cm, 5meters, 5€/meter, Total of 25€ + 6,95 delivery -  6,71 discount = 38,66.

ordered twice.


LEDs : 

Nichia NSPL500DS Sel. F3/5V Bedrade LED Warm-wit Rond 5 mm 22000 mcd 15 ° 20 mA 3.2 V



Step by step to create new boxes :


Step 1 - The holes for the wires : Take a mark 1.5cm from the side (outside of the box) and 3cm from the bottom. Drill a 4mm hole, straight towards the inside. Second hole : same distance from the side, but through the frame. Repeat on the other side. Clara Froumenty


Step 2 - The trenches for the LEDs. Use the circular saw and the wooden frame to create a 8mm large, 38° angle trench. You can use the smaller one to adjust.


Step 3 - Paint the box : all the inside and the back in blue.


Step 4 - Solder two bended LEDs to a middle thin black wire (positive to negative legs). When you face the inside of the box, on the left side the outside leg must be negative and the inside one (connected to the other LED) positive. On the right, negative inside and positive outside. Glue the wire to the box, against the frame.   Pro tips : the longest leg of the LED is the positive one. But once you know which side is which, you can cut them shorter. To test if the current flows, use the power source…


Step 5 - Put the silver wire inside the two holes (in and out, creating a loop inside) and solder them to the LEDs. If the second hole is broken, the wire can be glued to the wood. Some plastic should be removed to get the metal part out and solder it to the LED.


Step 6 - Solder the resistor to the negative wire and secure with electric sheath using the heat gun.


Step 7 - Clamp the scotchlock connectors at the end of each wire, and check if the current is flowing (with 12 volts).


Step 8 - Add silica in the boxes to prevent moulding : Glue 3-4 silica pillows on the bottom of the boxes, and hide them using a painted piece of cardboard (37.4 x 1.2cm). Use the poster printer paper to have the right size. Draw a line on the paint to glue the cardboard in a straight line, and then glue the other side to the bottom side, to have an acute angle.

The boxes are now all the same and ready to get specialised for the gills they will receive.

The previous steps were all taken during Clara and Yanqi’s internship. From January 2020, the following ones will have to get done for the remaining 11 boxes.


Here are the final steps to adapt each box to the gill it is displaying :


Step 9 - Use the model cardboard to find the middle point (mark it with a nail through the paper).Use different sized nails according to the gills’ size. Hammer the nail in the middle of the box, paint it in blue and glue the gill on top of it.


Step 10 - Place the LEDs in black inked straws (about 1cm long) to direct the light correctly. Test the bundles in the dark with the power source to place them in their trenches so the gill is enlightened but there are no visible bundles on the background, or on the glass. Then glue the straw inside the trench once you found the perfect position.


Here is how the names of the fish in different languages and the outlines were printed and stuck on dedicated locations :


Step 11 - Using the database, print the names of the fish with the vinyl cutter : Silver vinyl, normal georgia font, with a capital letter at the beginning. (How to use the vinyl cutter : ) The Latin name is 1.5cm high. The english and dutch common names  are 2.5cm high, separated by a /.   The outline of the fish : either find it on the Drive, or design it using the size indicated in the database and Illustrator, outlining fish side…


Step 12 - Saw trenches for the wires in the frame of the lid (so 1.5cm from the side), in front of the holes in the box. This will ensure the box closes properly.


Step 13 -  Stick the Latin name on the lid. Use the cardboard to position it. It should be 4.5cm higher than the frame, in the middle.


Step 14 - Stick the common names and the fish outline on the glass of the Aquaponics. The middle of the letters should be 4cm above the beam, and the outline about 10-15cm under it. Adjust according to the size of the fish. Pro tips : Spray water on the glass before positioning the sticker on it, then put tape on the middle and scrape from the middle to each side to stick without air bubbles.


Here are the last steps to set the show in the Aquaponics and make sure everything is enlightened and geometrically displayed : 


Step 15 - The electric wires are used to hang the whole box. One on each side, attached to each LED, and going up to make a loop around the metal structure of the Aquaponics, using metal clamps.


Step 16 - A box should hang with its top 1,62m higher than the floor, so this means the space between the bottom of the panel and the top of the box should be 81 high. You can adjust with the metal clamps, and use a spirit level for horizontality.  Make sure the box is in the middle of the panel : 15cm on each side, which means at the beam level : 37cm between the wires and 16.5cm on the sides .


Step 17 - The edge of the wires are clamped into scotch lock connectors, which will connect the box to the wires hidden in the Aquaponics beam, linked to power supplies plugged around the Aquaponics. First cut the needed length of stereo wire and connect it to the power supply, and put inside the beams secured with tie wraps.


Step 18 - Split the black and red wires where you want to make the connection, and clamp the scotchlock connectors to the adapted wire. When you’re facing the back of the box, the positive wire from the box is on the left and the negative one on the right. So the left wire should be connected to the red wire, and the right one to the black wire.


How to maintain the exhibition : what could go wrong and how to fix it :


Light problem - If one of the boxes isn’t correctly enlightened, it is probably related to a wrong connection in the electric circuit. This means you have to check the different connection points to make sure everything is ok, and sometimes do some soldering or replace the broken parts. Willem and Remco can help diagnose the problem and teach you how to solve it. Check around the LED, the resistor and the scotchlock connector.


Hanging problem - If a box is not at the same height as the others or tilted, it is pretty easy to fix the problem. You just have to get a ladder to reach the beam to which the wires are hanged, and adjust the height of each side using the metal clamps and a spirit level. You can find the right measurements on the “What has been done” presentation and on the Step 16 picture.


Condensation problem - The heaviest problems around this exhibition are caused by the strong humidity inside the Aquaponics. So far, we couldn’t come up with a solution, so the glass of the boxes experience a lot of condensation when the weather is sunny, and some gills are moulding. This is the challenge for the next exhibition intern ! See the other presentation to understand what we tried with silica. We also experimented ventilation holes, soaking the gills in alcohol and putting shaving foam on the glass


Since we couldn't solve the moulding problem that was quite serious, the 7 gills that were completely moulding were taken down (see on the database). There are currently drying in the sun of the Meeting room.

Next steps : solve the humidity problem causing condensation and mouding inside the boxes.