Science

Section



Music Science

Ice Crystallizes Into Radial Stars in a Hypnotic Short Film Directed by Thomas Blanchard

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

Peering through a macro lens, French video artist Thomas Blanchard has cultivated the ability to transform common scientific occurances into mesmerizing, and often otherworldly, tableaus. His recent project is a collaboration with musician Sébastien Guérive, whose quiet, beat-heavy track “Bellatrix” overlays Blanchard’s experimental film.

Shot in 8K against a black backdrop, the video documents a chemical dropped into hot water and then subsequently cooled. The plunge in temperature causes the substance to become unstable, activating crystallization and sending fringed spikes of ice splaying outward from a central point. Similar to his previous projects—watch more of Blanchard’s works on Vimeo and Instagram— “Bellatrix” is an abstract and illuminating consideration of nature’s unruly and incredibly meticulous processes.

 

 

 



Illustration Science

Precise Lines and Stipples Detail Tattoos of Exquisite Scientific Studies by Michele Volpi

March 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Michele Volpi, shared with permission

Bologna-based artist Michele Volpi (previously) inoculates his monochromatic tattoos of anatomical figures and biological diagrams with a dose of the surreal. Working in black ink, Volpi renders exquisite scientific illustrations across botany, astronomy, physiology, and chemistry with precise detail. He uses intricate linework and stippled shading to create realistic renderings of human skeletal systems and weather cycles, while skewing the scale or pairing seemingly disparate subject matters to achieve the more unusual qualities.

Although Volpi’s books are closed at the moment, he plans to announce new slots this spring—keep an eye on his Instagram for specifics—and he also has prints and shirts available in his shop.

 

 

 



Craft Science

Hand-Blown Glass Vessels by Kiva Ford Are Exacting Miniatures of Scientific and Household Goods

March 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Kiva Ford, shared with permission

Artist Kiva Ford (previously) spends his days shaping minuscule vessels for chemists, engineers, and physicists. He manages the custom scientific glass shop at the University of Notre Dame, where he’s tasked with creating unique instruments designed for specific research projects. The exacting quality of these pieces is reflected in all of his hand-blown works, which range from Klein bottles and flasks to vases, pitchers, and jars holding anatomical sculptures in miniature.

COVID-19 increased the demand for his wares, Ford tells Colossal, and he currently has a number of colorful pieces available on Etsy. On March 19, he’ll be hosting a demonstration of nesting a small vessel inside a larger, identical work at the International Flameworking Conference in New Jersey. You can also find videos and images documenting his process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Science

In 'Glass Microbiology,' Sculptures Explore the Science Behind Modeling Viruses and Bacteria

February 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

T4 Bacteriophage 2011. All photographs © Luke Jerram, shared with permission

Digital models of bacteria and viruses are essential for scientists communicating vital health information to the broader public. Paired with news articles and government guidelines, the depictions offer powerful visuals for otherwise invisible harms, and although accurate in shape and structure, many renderings often feature colors chosen at the artist’s discretion—this includes the now-infamous depiction of the red, spiked SARS-CoV-2, which was named a Beazley Design of the Year.

Back in 2004, artist Luke Jerram began questioning the impact of this creative license, asking whether people believed that microbes are inherently vibrant and how exactly viewers are supposed to tell which renderings feature accurate colors and which are alterations. This interest sparked his ongoing Glass Microbiology project, which creates models of viruses like Zika, smallpox, and HIV as clear sculptures.

 

E.coli

Created approximately 1 million times larger than the actual cells, Jerram’s works highlight the intricate and unique structures without obscuring a viewer’s impression based on color. He collaborates with virologists from the University of Bristol to ensure the form’s accuracy before being glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones, and Norman Veitch help mold the delicate shapes, starting with the coiled nucleic acid at the center and later the outer proteins. Together, they’ve created dozens of models so far, including the long, worm-like ebola and a T4 bacteriophage with a rectangular head and multiple legs.

“Of course, by making it in glass, you create something that’s incredibly beautiful. There’s a tension there, between the beauty of the object and what it represents,” the U.K.-based artist said in an interview. “By making the invisible visible, we’re able to feel like we have a better sense of control over it.”

Jerram’s microbes are on view in two exhibitions this month: as part of Hope from Chaos: Pandemic Reflections at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore and at Henry Moore Institute’s A State of Matter. Explore the vast collection and dive into the science behind the works on the Glass Microbiology site.

 

Ebola

Zika Virus

Malaria 2015

SARS Corona

Smallpox, Untitled Future Mutation, HIV

 

 



History Illustration Science

A 900-Page Book Catalogs Hundreds of Medicinal Plants through Colorful Renaissance-Era Woodcuts

February 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

Mandragora officinarum L., Mandrake. All images © Taschen, shared with permission

Memorialized in his namesake flower the Fuschia, Leonhart Fuchs was a German physician and groundbreaking botanical researcher. He published an immense catalog of his studies in 1543 titled The New Herbal, which paired colorful woodcut illustrations of approximately 500 plants with detailed writings about their physical features, medical uses, and origins. Fuch’s own hand-colored copy remains in pristine condition to this day and is the basis for a forthcoming edition published by Taschen. Weighing more than 10 pounds, the nearly 900-page volume is an ode to Fuch’s research and the field of Renaissance botany, detailing plants like the leafy garden balsam and root-covered mandrake. The New Herbal is available for pre-order from Taschen and Bookshop.

 

Impatiens balsamina L., Garden Balsam, Common Balsam, Jewelweed

Pulsatilla vulgaris MILL., Pasque Flower

 

 



Photography Science

A Deep-Sea Montage Unveils the Fantastic, Bizarre Creatures Swimming in Monterey Bay

February 22, 2022

Grace Ebert

A compilation recently released from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (previously) invokes the old adage that reality is stranger than fiction. Featuring dozens of otherworldly sea creatures, the footage highlights some of the most bizarre animals spotted during the organization’s ROV dives, which range from the water’s surface to its 4,900-foot-deep floor. The montage includes a diverse array of species from aptly named strawberry squid and the elusive psychedelic jellyfish to the pacific viperfish. The institute’s partner organization, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is also hosting an exhibition dedicated to the mysterious creatures living in the region, which opens this April. (via Moss and Fog)

 

Peacock squid

Swimming sea cucumber

Feather star

Vampire squid

Strawberry squid

Barreleye