A trillion superheroes
This site specific installation for the Mysteries of the Organism Solo Show at the Espacio Gallery. It imagines the dark spaces inside the tiniest of our capillaries, inhabited by an entire ecology of cells fine-tuned to their tasks and to each other. Microphages sample for antigens on the skin of harmful bacteria, and bring them to the attention of Helper T cells, which release hormones to help B cells change to hunter and killer cells, which then attack the bacteria. Another group of cells are created to hold a memory of the bacteria in case of re-exposure to infection. Joy and wonder inspired his work- at the human capacity to understand our world in such granular detail. It is truth as revealed by the stern gaze of science and recreated as space opera.
Replicant explores an imagined territory in an impossible space: the moment when an HIV virus invades a cell, and hijacks it to serve its own interests. It is a scene deciphered by science and presented as metaphor. An HIV is about 0.0001mm in size, equipped with just two copies of the recipe to make itself and three micro-machines (enzymes) to help it to do this. As for the rest, it takes all it needs from the cell it has invaded. What we see here is “smart” matter, sparsely distributed in space, yet honed to perfection in its functionality. Each micro-machine is single macromolecule- so small that its shape determines its function. Ordinary light cannot reach it or bring it to our attention. We can only know it through the shadows it casts on our laboratory screens.
Gelforms and Bioglyphs
Landscape interventions inspired by botanical forms and the miniscule structures as seen through an electron microscope and by the language of genomics, this series is an attempt to visualise the relationship between nature and science.
Nine Head Roulette
Each head alludes to one of the indices that were used in C19th Europe and America to place human beings on an evolutionary scale based on the shape of the head or features of the brain. A focus on surface differences led to a blindness towards the deeper unity - that all human beings are taken from the same mould. The value placed on human beings became a game of chance. Each person’s place on the evolutionary ladder depended on the race, gender, constitution and class into which they were born. With the distance of time it’s tempting to dismiss this kind of thinking as special pleading by a particular dominant group to justify its position as lords of creation, meriting special privileges. But these people were also some of the best scientists of their age, priding themselves on their objectivity. And such ideas, particularly in relation to mental abilities, are still around. More detail on the installation here.