Deconstructing patterns: art and science in conversation

01 February 2018

Location: The Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, London, NW1 1AT

Time: Wed 10:00-20:00, Thu - Sat 10:00-16:00

Deconstructingpatterns -event

Photoreceptor axons in the larval optic lobe of Drosophila | Iris Salecker, 2006. | Salecker lab, MRC, National Institute for Medical Research

Whilst we are surrounded by patterns we can see with the naked-eye, this exhibition provides an introduction to the surprising and beautiful world of microscopic patterns that can only be revealed by powerful tools and technologies. Some of the forms and shapes may not be immediately recognisable but they are fundamental to all living organisms.

Presented over three 'zones', Deconstructing patterns explores different molecular and cellular patterns studied at the Crick, each one introduced by a unique artist commission.

The artworks offer an alternative way of visualising and describing the forms and functions that so intrigue our scientists. Within each zone, visitors can listen in on conversations between artists and scientists as they reflect on different ways of seeing.

In Infinite Instructions, DNA research and the search for the patterns amongst huge genomic data sets provide the starting point for an immersive sound installation by the award-winning poet, Sarah Howe and sound artist, Chu-Li Shewring - developed in conversation with the Advanced Sequencing facility at the Crick.

The intersection between art and science is a recurring theme for Australian artist, Helen Pynor. For the zone titled Transforming Connections, she has created a mesmerising installation that combines light, photography and sculpture to explore the movement of patterns during the metamorphosis of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The commission is based on the work of the Visual Circuits Assembly Laboratory, who are investigating the development of the optic lobe of the fruit fly.

The concluding zone Breaking Symmetry challenges our understanding of patterns even further, highlighting the creativity inherent in asymmetry, which is essential to the healthy development of all organisms. The Polarity and Networks Laboratory worked closely with young people on a summer filmmaking project at Holborn Community Association. The result is a wonderfully surreal fictional narrative created by the students, which offers a metaphor for the lab's research into the first appearance of asymmetry in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis Elegans.

Placing discussions between artist and scientist at the heart of this exhibition offers a unique route in to understanding the fundamental role that patterns play in the growth and development of our own bodies. Deconstructing patterns also provides a window to the pioneering research carried out at the Crick.

Visitors will enter an exquisite and fascinating world of microscopic patterns that are invisible to the naked eye and yet offer potentially life-changing scientific insights.

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