The Art of Science

Issue 65 May 2021

A window onto science: representing scientific concepts in art and the potential of the diorama

What is involved in creating an artwork that responds to scientific research? Should the artwork portray the science in a representational way and should it be scientifically ‘accurate’? How can different materials and techniques convey scientific concepts or ‘challenge’ them? And how can the social, industrial or institutional factors be reflected in the process? Artist Julie Light and a group of scientists at the University of Leeds faced these dilemmas in relation to an artwork commissioned to engage new audiences through an artist’s response to scientific research. The development of ‘Diorama 1’ provides a case study of the practices and decisions that enable an artist and team of scientists to work through complex issues about representing science.


“My personal life experience led me to realize that health is not self-evident. I had the opportunity to learn how powerful the combination of materials science, medical science and medical art is today.”

Gunther Lill is a mixed media artist. His series ‘Art4Heart‘ aims to inform and make people aware of the outstanding importance of modern technology for human health.

Mapping the Remains: a personal journey in drawing anatomy

Lisa Temple-Cox’s work explores interstices: between science and religion, the normal and the pathological, the familiar and the uncanny. Central to her practice is her search for identity and sense of belonging as a mixed-race post-colonial child. She is fascinated by Vanitas as both categorisation and as a symbol of the changing states of life. Her current research interests explore the aesthetics and symbolism of the medical museum with a focus upon the anatomical. It examines our own subjective experiences and perceptions of the body in life and death using a range of media, including drawing, assemblage, and installation.

Creating ArtScience Collaborations

Dr. Claudia Schnugg is a curator and producer of art and science collaboration and a researcher in the intersections of art and aesthetics with science, technology, and business. She produces artscience collaborations, artist-in-residence programs, media art projects as well as various projects intertwining art, science, technology, and innovation in business, industry, scientific organizations and cultural organizations. She also holds workshops, runs research projects, and gives talks about developments on the intersection of art, science, technology, and business.

Being a Medical Illustrator

Patrick McDonnell is a founding member of European Medical Illustration Association. For over 20 years he was a member of the Association of Medical Illustrators, during which time he won various awards in the AMI salons. Award of Excellence for Medical Book. 1st, 2nd and honourable mention for medical computer graphics. He has illustrated over 20 Medical textbooks and surgical atlases on various subjects for different doctors, surgeons and scientists.

Genetics, art and communication

Dr Ahna Skop is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and an affiliate faculty member in Life Sciences Communication and the UW-Madison Arts Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She mentors both scientists and art students in her lab, and also serves on the board of the Wisconsin Science Museum, where many of her artscience collaborations are on display. Some of her work can be seen in the main entrance of the Genetics/Biotechnology Center building on the UW-Madison campus with a 40ft-scientific art piece called “Genetic Reflections”. She has also curated and contributed to a traveling exhibition of scientific art called “TINY: Art from microscopes” from the UW-Madison campus, and she has organized the bi-annual Worm Art Show for the International C. elegans Meeting for over 24 years. Ahna is a winner of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Sun Catcher

Jessica Lloyd-Jones is a visual artist whose work explores concepts of energy and natural phenomena through the experimental use of materials and light. In her work, ‘Sun Catcher’, she has created a vivid light installation at Rowan View Hospital, a Mental Health facility in Maghull, Merseyside, sensitively employing the use of light and colour to create a relaxing environment for staff, visitors and service users.

You Are Where You Are: Sarah Robinson’s ‘Architecture is a Verb’.

In this article, artist and writer Taney Roniger, reviews Sarah Robinson’s recent book, ‘Architecture is a Verb’, which outlines an approach that shifts the fundamental premises of architectural design and practice in several important ways. First, it acknowledges the centrality of the human organism as an active participant interdependent in its environment. Second, it understands human action in terms of radical embodiment―grounding the range of human activities traditionally attributed to mind and cognition: imagining, thinking, remembering―in the body. Third, it asks what a building does―that is, extends the performative functional interpretation of design to interrogate how buildings move and in turn move us, how they shape thought and action. Finally, it is committed to articulating concrete situations by developing a taxonomy of human/building interactions.

Art and science combine to reveal the inner workings of our DNA

Kate Patterson is a Visual Science Communicator, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Lab Research Fellow, 3D Visualisation and Aesthetics Lab UNSW Art and Design, UNSW. She uses visual language to transform complex scientific concepts for a general audience. Kate is a trans-disciplinary researcher working at the interface of art and science, using storytelling to bring together the historically segregated fields of technology, art and science.

Communication is a critical component of medical research and through the use of traditional animation, computer generated imagery and 3D animation, Kate transforms raw scientific data using the tools of visual arts and cinematography into a form that can be used for education, communication and awareness purposes. She uses both hand drawn, frame by frame animation as well as state-of-the art animation software (Maya and After Effects) to create engaging science stories.

The art and beauty of general relativity

Margaret Wertheim is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in Science Communication, The University of Melbourne. She is an internationally noted writer and exhibition curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. The author of six books, including ‘The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace,’ a groundbreaking exploration of the history of Western concepts of space from Dante to the Internet.

Wertheim is the founder and director of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles-based organization devoted to the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of mathematics and science. ( Through the IFF, she has designed exhibitions for galleries and museums in a dozen countries, including the Hayward Gallery in London and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The IFF’s “Crochet Coral Reef” project – spearheaded by Margaret and twin sister Christine – is the largest participatory science-and-art endeavor in the world, and has been shown at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), the Science Gallery (Dublin), New York University Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere. Through an unlikely conjunction of handicraft and geometry, the Crochet Coral Reef offers a window into mathematics while addressing the issue of reef degradation due to global warming. Wertheim’s TED talk on the topic has been viewed more than a million times, and translated into 20 languages, including Arabic.

How photography evolved from science to art

Nancy Locke is Associate Professor of Art History, Penn State. Dr. Locke teaches courses in European art, ca. 1780–1940, and the history of photography from its inception to the present. She is the author of Manet and the Family Romance (Princeton University Press, 2001), as well as articles in such journals as Art Bulletin, Burlington Magazine, and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide; furthermore, she has published chapters in edited volumes on such topics as fascism and art in France and Italy, and the representation of childhood in the nineteenth century. Recent essays on Manet, “The Social Character of Manet’s Art,” in the exhibition catalogue Manet, l’inventeur du moderne (Musée d’Orsay, Paris, 2011), and “Manet and the Ethics of Realism,” in Perspectives on Manet (ed. Therese Dolan, Ashgate, 2012), propose that Manet was above all an artist concerned with giving form to the social questions and ethical dilemmas of modern life.

The Art of Science

‘The Art of Science’ explores the work of 40 artists and artist–scientists, from different cultures and eras, uncovering how these innovators have designed futuristic technology centuries ahead of its time, investigated time and space through abstract art, and created sculpture informed by Nasa technology.

‘The Art of Science’ explores topics such as: Climate breakdown and conservation ; Deep space and cosmic archaeology ; How media is used to communicate ideas relating to science ; Exploring being human alongside biotechnology ; and AI and Neural Networks.