Genetic Moo tells us of how they intend to bring the inflammation process to life.

What has been your experience of working on art & science projects or working with scientists previously?

All our work is inspired by science but this is our first time working directly with a scientist. We look at micro and marine biology, and read about evolution, artificial life and animal behaviour all the time. Our work makes reference to ecology, mutation, morphology and symbiosis and we have used algorithms similar to those in scientific models to act on chemical gradients and pheromone trails.

How are you choosing to respond to your scientific collaborator’s research?

We want to place the audience within a physical/biological event, to help them to understand the process better. Dr Neil Dufton has helped us choose a relatively simple inflammation (that still involving about 500,000 cells) which is central to his practice.

What methods are you using to make sense of Dr Dufton’s science?

We have done a couple of lab visits and talked to Neil in detail about his research. He has demonstrated some of his lab techniques and explained the inflammation process, responding to our desire to simplify without trivialising the details. Neil has visited our recent art events to gain a better understanding of our work and we have shared our enthusiasms for using art to demonstrate aspects of science.

How did you first approach responding to the brief with Dr Dufton? And how have you found the process of working with him so far?

We decided to explore the notion of cascades – in inflammation and in interactive art. We soon focused on the idea of looking at the goings on within a particular inflammation – what happens inside a simple blister? Could we take the viewer on a journey into the heart of an epic battle between infection and immunity? Our scientist is proving not only to be knowledgeable which we expected but also creative in his own right. Neil produces science fiction like cartoons to illustrate certain scientific ideas and we may use some elements of these as inspiration for our own visuals.

What were your expectations when you were first invited to be part of the project? Have your expectations changed at all during the development process?

We were excited to work with real scientific data but weren’t sure how to bring a single-screen film to life. We wanted to use our experiences with interactive art to make a film that was as immersive as possible. We’ve come up with a proposal which involves an interactive element in the filming stage. We plan to build a large 3D projection dome which we will call Blister Cinema. We will invite guests to enter dome as if they are pathogens entering a blister and interact with our inflammatory process. We will film them and edit the footage into the final film – thus using all our skills at once.

What has been the most interesting science fact you’ve discovered so far?

All mammals from a mouse to a man exhibit similar inflammatory cycles.
A cytometer can be considered as an image making machine.
Inflammation can be good and bad – sometimes both at once!

December 2013