Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beautiful and deadly

Deborah sent me a link to the glass artwork of Luke Jerram - transparent glass sculptures of viruses that push the boundaries of both biological knowledge and glassblowing. His website has lots of examples and a video. Everything but the cost. I'm guessing that if you have to ask, you can't afford them... Not that I need one, I was just curious.

These transparent glass sculptures were created to contemplate the global impact of each disease and to consider how the artificial colouring of scientific imagery affects our understanding of phenomena. Jerram is exploring the tension between the artworks' beauty, what they represent and their impact on humanity.

The question of pseudo-colouring in biomedicine and its use for science communicative purposes, is a vast and complex subject. If some images are coloured for scientific purposes, and others altered simply for aesthetic reasons, how can a viewer tell the difference? How many people believe viruses are brightly coloured? Are there any colour conventions and what kind of ‘presence’ do pseudocoloured images have that ‘naturally’ coloured specimens don’t? See these examples of HIV imagery. How does the choice of different colours affect their reception?

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