Did You Know…

…that You Can Paint With Microscopes?

Strange shapes dart back and forth across the image: Circles, ellipses, and squares – sometimes colored, sometimes black and white. This video installation is clearly the work of a modern artist, though a microscope was used instead of a normal camera. It was all the brainchild of English artist Jo Berry. After studying natural history illustration, graphic design, and print graphics, she started working as a researcher at Loughborough University. It was here that she developed an interest in digital design techniques for artistic “light painting” with the aid of laser technology and computer software.

After producing a number of LED light installations, Jo Berry is now focusing her attention on living cells. For her project “Hijacking Natural Systems,” she joined forces with researchers from Nottingham University to study the reaction of human nerve and brain cells to the hormone Ghrelin, which triggers the sensation of hunger. To do this, the artist used ZEISS laser scanning microscopes and software, Which she used in creating stereo versions and 3D views of cells while varying the recording speed of the films. She then superimposed digital drawings on the individual images –
An approach that combines science and art.

"“I was able to have fun with colors, experiment with cutting and pasting, work on time-lapse and slow-motion film sequences, and look at cells in 3D from different angles,” she said of her project. The resulting short films, vinyl drawings, and light boxes have already been on exhibit in Derby and Nottingham.

5 October 2011