I was initially struck by the beauty of Annina’s graphs used to analyse the characteristics of the thymic epithelial cells. Their beauty belies their function and cry out to be reappropriated.
Annina Graedel: The graph underlying the video “AIRE” is a detailed analysis of thymic epithelial cells. These cells are specialized in testing T cells in the thymus and deleting autoreactive cells that could cause autoimmune diseases. To create this graph I used a method called flow cytometry to look at various characteristics of these cells. Flow cytometry is a method where cells are labelled in a certain way and then analysed – in a way similar to a bar code scanner in the supermarket. In this manner we can scan the information of millions of cells and see how well-equipped these thymic epithelial cells are in testing T cells and preventing autoimmune diseases.
I am impressed how well scientists explain their research to those of us who don’t have a scientific background. I started a project a couple of years ago with the Oncology Department in Oxford and attended lots of events that aimed to make the research accessible to the public – their world of science entered the mainstream in language easily understood – as an artist I think I can take a lot from their approach.
Annina created an infographic to accompany my lightbox, which will explain her research to the general public at Wellcome Trust events in a community based arts centre (Fusion Arts) and the JR Hospital in Oxford over the coming months.
The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University, held an event for artists and scientists last night – the project was officially launched before it tours.
The first video based on the T-cell files is finished. I’ve applied the experimental approach developed for my paintings and prints to the way I create the videos. The process is time-consuming as the outcome is, in a way, materials led and unknown.
Of course I have an idea what I’d like to achieve, but not how to achieve it directly. Most would call it trial and error, but this free way of working always surprises me and results in outcomes I had never imagined.
With regards to the video “AIRE“, following hours of experiments, I feel that one of the first incarnations is the strongest, simple and mesmerising. I like my videos to be the visual equivalent of soundscapes.
But, how does it inform the viewer? I can’t help but let the work develop, almost of its own accord, but ultimately directed by me. So the outcome may be far removed from the original source material – importantly though, the heart of what I do is the desire to create something seductive and beautiful which belies its origin: T-cells which for no obvious reason can attack the body and cause autoimmune diseases such as MS, Type 1 Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The meaning of the work may be unclear at the start of the viewing experience, but with the realisation of the profound subject-matter, the sensory experience is complemented and the work given a greater depth.