Artist uses live cells to create new form of design
By Nick Britten (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/nick-britten/) 1:53PM GMT 15 Mar 2011
The human body is an amazing thing, and there are some amazing things to be done with cells from the human body.
These images show how live cells being used in world-leading research and taken from microscope images and live cell signalling can be manipulated into a variety of digital shapes, drawings and animations.
The process has been a long and exhaustive one for the artist, Jo Berry, who took a step into the unkown by enrolling as an undergraduate research student for six months at Nottingham University’s School of Biomedical Sciences, where scientists are studying how the hormone ghrelin and their receptors, which determine how hungry we feel, stimulate human cells.
The long-term objective for the scientists is to help sufferers of conditions including eating disorder and
obesity using ghrelin to literally switch on and off hunger by either blocking or stimulating the appetite.
Berry’s project, Hijacking Natural Systems, which is being funded by the Wellcome Trust and Art Council England, involved taking the latest microscope images and Zeiss software back to her studio in Carsington, Derbyshire, and manipulating them to create a series of remarkable short films, vinyl drawing and multi-layered sculptured lightboxes, the results of which will be shown in a variety of locations in Derby, and later Nottingham, from this summer.
Her work included changing the speed of the live cell imagery; Projection 3D Views; Stereo Images; Stereo movies; and splitting images & animating live cell imagery, as well as digital drawings taken from the original cell images.
“The process of working in a facility where they are doing such important research, and taking that research, its software and imagery to create something cutting edge and entirely different has been incredible,” she said.
“I experienced a full range of imaging techniques and observed the differences between traditional confocal microscopy and automated imaging systems. I also had the opportunity to try advanced imaging methods such as total internal reflection (TIRF) microscopy, and the use of more physiological cell systems (human neutrophils).
“I was able to play about with colour, cutting and pasting, speeding up and slowing down films, making stereo images and looking at cells from different three-dimensional views - taking the science and software and approaching it from a different angle.”
The two scientific aims of the project involved demonstrating that ghrelin receptor trafficking within cells could be quantified and used to derive the pharmacology of different types of ghrelin receptor drug, and to study how drugs interact with the ghrelin receptor, using confocal microscopy.
She said: “The project is celebrating the human body, the use of new technology, the collaboration between science and art, and also gives the public the opportunity to see art in a non-traditional setting.
“The hormone we studied is in us all, helping us decide when to eat, so the inspiration behind the work is part of everyone. I really want people who do not usually go to art galleries to come along and enjoy what they see, and see how exciting putting science and art together can be.”
The project, called Hijacking Natural Systems, goes on show in Derby from July. Based at the city’s Museum and Art Gallery, artwork will also be displayed on bus stops and in shop windows across the city.
More details of Berry and her work can be found at: http://www.joberry.co.uk (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/http://www.joberry.co.uk) and http://www.joberry-artist.blogspot.com (http://www.joberry-artist.blogspot.com)