is a publication that looks at the intersections between art and science. Each issue focuses on a different area of crossover that we find interesting and relevant. The contributing artists and scientists featured in these pages are people who we feel to be creating interesting, engaging work that best represents each field. We also are interested in representing less well known practitioners and bringing their work to a wider audience and possilby a different context. An example of this is where we ask scientists and academics to step outside there comfort zone and compose a haiku relating to their scientific field. This issue is the first ever of +- and the featured subject is Microscopy. For more information on the magazine, the featured artists and to suggest possible ideas for future issues go to www.plusminusmag.tumblr.com
Dan Tapper is a practising sound artist with a deep fascination in the cross-pollination between art and science. Having himself collaborated with scientists on several projects, Dan knows the value that a different way of thinking can bring to the table and also that the two worlds arenâ€™t so far apart. Danâ€™s personal interest lies in hidden worlds of sound, produced electromagnetically, resonated by subteranean tunnels and the insides of natural objects such as trees and rivers.
Juna Abrams is a geographer and writer who makes stories out of the magic of the natural world around her. With a foot in both art and science, Juna has experimented with video art, poetry and narrative works as well as editing a successful literary magazine in her native California. Junaâ€™s personal interest lies more with humanity than topography and she is widely travelled around Europe and the North American continent, stopping at each and every gallery and museum of natural history along the way.
Contributors Video poet Sarah Tremle tt forays into microscop y with her work Patterned Utterance
Stem cell scientist Dr Paul D. Andrews’ microscopy images
Microscopy-inspired haiku written by scientists and academics, featuring; Dr Nigel Chaffey Dr Andrew Smart Stephen Kulik
Dr Jennifer Willet Presents
Dan Tapper on Junko Mori’s sculptural microscopy inspired works
Microscopy + Editors Dan Tapper and Juna Abrams carry out their very own microscopy art experiment
Thanks go to all our contributors who made the creation of this issue possible
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Contributions and photos - copyright of the contributors +- Magazine © Dan Tapper, Juna Abrams Plus Minus, Plus Minus Mag and +- are trademarks
If you would like to contribute to a future edition of +- please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover image: Dr Jennifer Willet
Two in Telophase: Cancer Cells Dividing shows two HeLa cells taken from cervical cancer patient Henrietta Lacks in 1951. The cells have duplicated and are undergoing chromosome segregation. The green colouring is protein Aurora B. The image was taken by Dr Paul D. Andrews a stem cell researcher who has collaborated with several artists on projects funded by the Wellcome Trust. ÂŠ Dr Paul D. Andrews/Stem Cell Solutions Ltd.
Sarah Tremlett is an artist and multimedia poet, working at the intersection between poetry and philosophy. She combines microscopy into her work with the piece Patterned Utterance. Patterned Utterance uses distortions in ambient room level caused by speaking to interrupt the inner workings of a scanning probe microscope while scanning a piece of silicon. These vocal interactions cause the microscope to skip, leaving blank white marks in the reading. These marks correspond to the accompanying text derived from philosophical writings. “I became interested in how new scientific technologies have enabled a new type of image – a new type of vision beyond the naked eye.” As part of her research into making the piece Sarah visited a physics laboratory and was inspired to interrupt the scanning processes that were in use through creating vocal sound disturbances. “When I visited a physics laboratory and was shown some of the lurid images conventionally produced by scanning probe microscopes I wasn’t interested in repeating these effects, but when the lab technician told me not to speak very loudly as the probe was sensitive to vocal vibrations I realised that I had found the missing link in my research.”
The resulting piece takes elements from Sarah’s background in poetry and the arts, combining this with scientific equipment and creating something between. “In Patterned Utterance writing is not a representation of spoken language but actually is spoken language – it is a form of cymatics, creating a sonogram in effect – showing how a signal as a vocal vibration varies with time.” However core links do remain with her original materials. “This ‘probing’ process bears a comparison to the writing or reading process which is undertaken in traditional page poetry.” Sarah has created two versions of the work, one without voice and one with, exploring the limits of what can be accepted as multimedia poetry. “Is the one without the voice a conceptual moving image rather than a poem?” To view more of Sarah’s work click here.
Patterned Utterance All photo credits: Sarah Tremlett
View of three readings taken by the scanning probe microscope accompanied by the text of the spoken poem each line of text when read aloud creates the blanks and white marks which can be viewed on the readings.
1I 2 Home 3 Still, quiet, caught 4 Unlocking, transforming, storing, distributing and switching about the ways of revealing 5 World, earth, home 6 Challenged out this which emerges 7 Revealing 8 Before Socrates ethos meant abode or dwelling place 9 Interruptive 10 The impossibility of making the same error twice 11 Every manifestation of a force in any form whatever is to be regarded as its speech Second scan: Talkover
This piece was written by Dan Tapper based on his experience of the Coppiced Wood exhibition and workshop held at the Holburne museum, Bath, UK, and his further conversations with the artist Junko Mori.
Junko Mori is a Japanese metalworker and artist living in Wales. Her amazing sculptural forms have been displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Honolulu, Hawai, USA , among others. I discovered Junko at a recent exhibition at the Holburne Museum, Bath, UK entitled Coppiced Wood. I was struck by how intricate her pieces were, whilst also creating a real sense of movement, reminding me of the types of arrangements seen in natural emergent processes and generative art. Micro processes seen on the macro scale seemed evident in Junko’s work and I decided to investigate further. Luckily for me Junko was
presenting a talk and hands on workshop at the Holburne, involving pressing dried flowers and other organic material onto small copper discs. After this workshop I contacted Junko with some further questions touching on how she feels science influences her art, from her fascination with microscopes as a child to her current sculptural pieces. “My basic concept started off from biology lessons especially the microscope. Without that moment where I saw small organisms moving around through it, my practice would never have existed.” One of the elements of Junko’s work that I believe brought to mind micro processes seen on the macro scale is the fact that she individually forges every single element of her works. This creates a variation in size and texture on small elements – such as the feather like quality seen “Propagation Project Lichen / Petals” These variations mimic repetitive elements in the natural world, where small differences, however imperceptible, have a profound effect on the overall outcome. Imagine a flock of starlings and it becomes clear emergence is a big part of Junko’s work. When asked if she considered her work to be influenced by art and science Junko replied:
My copper disc imprinted with pressed flowers
“Yes. I always research beyond all these categories. It is not just science, but everything that could feed your artistic vision.” Certainly the titles of some of her works draw links to art science, in particular the micro-scale, such as: “Uncontrollable Beauty: Lichen/Clear Cloud,” “Honeycomb Seed” and “Silver Organism”. Junko is currently investigating an unnamed new technique for creating her art, as well as incorporating meditative elements into her practice. “I am working on a new project which technique I have never tried properly yet. At this moment, I cannot tell you as I might totally fail! Also I am interested in spiritual level of making. I found making is really meditative, and I believe there is link between religious (spiritual) practice and craft practice.” You can find out more about Junko Mori and her work here.
Propagation Project Lichen / Petals, 2009 Image credit: Junko Mori
Scientific H a i k u So far weâ€™ve looked at practitioners who recognise and knowingly incorporate art science features into their work. This section looks further afield, asking scientists and academics to distil their thoughts into a haiku representing what miroscopy means to them.
Dr Nigel Chaffey
Course Leader of Environmental Science, Bath Spa University, UK Nigel Chaffey’s research in plant cell biology uses microscopy of fluorescent antibodies to locate and study nanometre-scale structures in developing cells of wood.
Pointillistic sights; magic fluor, essence of light, cells’ future revealed
Dr Andrew Smart
Reader of Sociology, Bath Spa University, UK Geneticists have traded their microscopes for high-throughput sequencers and bioinformatics, but they are essentially examining DNA at increasingly high levels of resolution. Andrew Smart’s research considers how genetic scientists use ethnic and racial categories in their research, and the social implications of this.
Genes, like skin colour, speak little of the content of our character
Physics Teacher, Orange County School of the Arts, USA Through break dancing, robot battles and other unconventional teaching methods, Stephen Kulik bridges the gap between science and art to students in his physics classes.
A quantum chaos, unseen and mysterious, gives rise to order
DR JENNIFER WILLET PRESENTS
art research trip, part artist residency, part social experiment, BioARTCAMP brought together twenty artists and scientists with an unusual goal: To create a functional laboratory/art space together in the Canadian Rockies. What do found-object caterpillar mills, a primitive demonstration of the polymerase chain reaction and a fresh water micro-organism with seven genders have in common? These were all projects undertaken in the remote Canadian Rocky Mountains in July 2011 by the team of artists and scientists at BioARTCAMP, headed by Dr Jennifer Willet.
BioARTCAMP badge of honour
Happy campers at the intersection of art and science
Willet’s interest in science/art crossover began early in her academic career when she drew anatomy specimens for the School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. “Before I ever set foot in a biotechnological laboratory I imagined it would be cool, clean, crisp – and sterile – driven by banks of supercomputers,” explains Willet. “In actuality my experience of biotech and medical laboratories has lead me to re-imagine the lab as a complex ecology including multiple orders of life: microorganisms, cell lines, nutrient broths, research specimens (whole and partial), animal by-products, human samples, scientists, administrators, artists, pets, pests, lunches, and unwanted chewing gum.” The discovery of this chaotic laboratory ecology gradually lead to
the conception of BioARTCAMP, coproduced in July 2011 the Banff Centre and INCUBATOR, the studio/laboratory hybrid space at the University of Windsor, also headed by Dr Willet. The collaboration produced a diverse array of outputs, including the image of Willet’s microscopic specimens collected at the camp included in this article. Willet remarks, “I think the microscope is a technology that fundamentally changed our understanding of the natural world. It made visible invisible organisms. It made visible the structural forms that make up the materiality of life.” The camp also produced several other microscopy-centred projects such as Tangy Duff’s biodegradable incubator prototypes tested by feeding building materials to microbial organisms, and Marta de Menezies’ cultural look at Tetrahymena thermophilia, a fresh water micro-organism with seven genders. Such projects form what INCUBATOR Lab calls “the intersection of art and science.” Though BioARTCAMP was a one-off, week long residency, INCUBATOR holds exhibitions and hosts visitors year round. Their latest project, called Eco-Nuit Parade, involved a living, moving parade of biotechnological works taking to the streets of Toronto to entice passers-by with masks, streamers, noisemakers – and take-home lab experiments, of course. To find out more about INCUBATOR Lab, click here.
Natural history specimens All photo credits: Jennifer Willet
his issue of +- focuses on art within the field of microscopy and our research for the publication got the creative juices flowing, leading us to try out our own microscopy based art experiment.
Using a reel of photographic film and some homegrown yeast cultures we achieved a surprising variety of images, generated from the culturesâ€™ interaction with the film negative. For the experiment we used: A roll of 35mm colour film, 3 yeast cultures made from combining yeast with orange juice, marmite and milk, a red light â€“ we performed the experiment in a dark room so as not to overexpose the film. The red light allowed us to see while not damaging the photographic film which is not sensitive to red light. We used tissue paper to wipe the negatives clean of our cultures after applying the mixture. The first step was to darken the room, so as the only light came from our red safelight. We then unrolled the film from its casing, placing it flat on the table. We used masking tape to hold the film in position and prevent it from rolling itself in an awkward fashion. We applied the culturesâ€™ to separate sections of the film so as to get separate results for each. They were applied by dripping them onto the film with a teaspoon. In areas we spread this mixture around so as to cover large swathes of the film, in others we left the mixture as it had dripped. Our aim was to generate a wide variety of different images and effects with a limited palette.
Table with equipment
Marmite, milk and orange juice culture samples
Once we had applied the cultures, we left the mixtures on the film for several minutes to allow them to react with the film. We then cleaned the film with tissue paper and rolled it back into its casing. The next day we took the film to be developed. Itâ€™s important to mention that you should inform the developer that the film is not a conventional roll and has had yeast and other foodstuffs on it; this allows the developer to take extra care when developing and to not be surprised by the somewhat funky smell of your film. When we got the developed images we were really impressed by the variety and colour that the yeast cultures imprinted on the film. In areas you can see scratch like marks, which is where the yeast has strongly eaten away at the film. We left our cultures on quite briefly; the effect of the yeast on the film could be enhanced by leaving the mixture on for longer. Weâ€™d also recommend putting down some sort of plastic sheet or cover under the film whilst applying your cultures, we found that it was quite messy and left the table we used sticky and smelly for a while.
If you try this out yourself weâ€™d love to see the resulting images. Send them to email@example.com.
All photo credits: Dan Tapper, Juna Abrams
Orange Juice Reaction
Are you part of the Art Science movement? We want to hear from you! Weâ€™re looking for articles, images, questions and comments on the theme for our next issue:
Scientific Machinery Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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