Issue 24 May 2016

‘Painting’ with electron flow

Eric Heller is a Professor of Chemistry and Physics at Harvard University, known for his work on time dependent quantum mechanics. In addition to his scientific accomplishments, Heller is also a practicing artist who has worked with a variety of media including photography and landscape painting. He is best known for digital renderings based on the results of his physics research. In this article he shows some of his artwork, as well as giving an exclusive interview with David Glowacki.

Hidden Fields

“Humans are energy fields…….The distinguishing feature which makes humans (or any form of life) special is the energetic relationships between the materials from which we’re made.”

David Glowacki is a scientist, artist, and cultural theorist. A Royal Society Research Fellow based at the University of Bristol, and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, one of his cross-disciplinary projects is the multi-award winning ‘danceroom Spectroscopy / Hidden Fields’, which has been touring internationally over the past few years. In this exclusive interview he discusses these projects, the aesthetics of scientific imagination and the fusion of scientific and artistic practice.

Glass Microbiology

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Since 2004, he has been turning viruses and other pathogens into stunning glass sculptures, in an ongoing series titled “Glass Microbiology.” Covering maladies such as AIDS, Ebola and Swine Flu, his works are both beautiful and disturbing, challenging observers to reinterpret their view of the tiny organisms.


Günes-Hélène Isitan is a professional transdisciplinary artist; her practice, anchored in biomedia arts, is an interweaving of visual and interactive art, life sciences and philosophy.

Inspired by contemporary issues, she uses microorganisms to explore the cultural barriers humans have built in the life continuum, questioning the Nature/Culture dichotomy and offering a new perspective on our relationship to non-human agents. Through her visual pieces and her installations, she strives to offer an experience of different relations to the worlds, where the body-subject is neither isolation nor limit, but a permeable zone, open and ready to affect and be affected by the interactions with the non-human, the more-than-human.


David S. Goodsell is an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute. His research uses computer graphics and simulation to explore structure/function relationships in key biological systems. He is also an artist, using ink and watercolor painting to represent cells and their compartments: anything from a bacterium to the Golgi apparatus of a eukaryotic cell, nerve synapses or even viral particles. He was the winner of the Wellcome Image Awards 2016.

Virtual Connections

Lisa May Thomas is a dance artist trained at Laban London and specializes in working with the moving image. Starting points come from her observations on the moving human form and a curiosity around the language of the body and of the stories, memories and experiences it contains. Her practice is led through somatic enquiry, improvisation and authentic movement techniques. She has worked substantially with new technologies, specifically with Interactive Scientific on the project ‘danceroom Spectroscopy’, a multi-award winning Sci-Art collaborative project which explores new languages and crossovers on the interface of physics research, interactive arts, education, performance and technology.

Biomedical Animations

Drew Berry is a biomedical animator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. His scientifically accurate and aesthetically rich visualizations are elucidating cellular and molecular processes for a wide range of audiences. His animations have been shown in exhibitions, multimedia programs and television shows, and have received international recognition including an Emmy (2005) and a BAFTA Award (2004).

Crystal Worlds

Dr Simon F. Park is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he teaches Microbiology and Molecular Biology. For nearly 10 years now, he has also worked at the fertile intersection between art and science and here, his practice has been inspired by the aesthetics and processes of the usually invisible microbiological and chemical world. As well as collaborating with artists, he also produces his own work. ‘Crystal Worlds’ is an example.

Micro-Choreography Gallery

We sent out a call to artists and scientists for images of their work that ‘aesthetically represent the dynamics of microscopic & molecular processes’. A selection of the best images (assessed in terms of their aesthetic impact and scientific content) are included in this gallery, many of which have never been seen publicly before. The gallery includes images by Florian Stroehl, Ljiljana Fruk, Ula Alexander, Susanna Monti, Craig Russell and Becca Rose