Artwork / Syndemic Sublime
- Abstract: Syndemic Sublime is an ongoing series of data-driven computer-generated animations created using COVID-19 data libraries and molecular visualization software. The animations intertwine molecular models of SARS-CoV-2 with both human and non-human protein structures such as antibodies and cell receptors. The generative movement is created using data from COVID deaths to disrupt the 20 amino acid residues along the protein structures. The resulting disruptions create mesmerizing tableaus that are sometimes spastic and sometimes sublime. Each animation has a unique starting and ending form as it slowly morphs from its biological folded form or “conformation” to its technologically distorted form. The generative quality of the process allows for unpredictable and unique transformations within each animation as the software creates unexpected visuals. The unraveling and collision of the proteins results in both jarring glitches and in soothing movements. The animations in the series combine models of proteins from the coronavirus with proteins from llamas, alpacas, cats, dogs, pangolins, bats and humans evoking our increasing interspecies entanglements in the contemporary biotechnological landscape. From zoonotic diseases to transgenic vaccine development to the use of animals as living factories to produce biological products, our understanding of what it means to be “human” in the “natural world” is becoming increasingly complex. The slow, quiet animations create liminal spaces for reflection, mourning, and wonder at the unseen molecular forces of the biological world affecting our daily lives in profound ways.
- Biography: Laura Splan is a transdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of science, technology, and culture. Her artworks have been commissioned by The Centers for Disease Control Foundation and Triënnale Brugge, exhibited at the Museum of Arts & Design and the Beall Center for Art + Technology, and are represented in the collections of the Thoma Art Foundation and The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Articles including her work have appeared in The New York Times, Discover, designboom, CLOT, and Frieze. Publications featuring her artwork include The Routledge Companion To Biology In Art & Architecture. Splan has received research funding from The Jerome Foundation and her residencies have been supported by The Knight Foundation and The Institute for Electronic Arts. She has been a lecturer at Stanford University and her research as a member of the New Museum’s NEW INC Creative Science incubator has included collaborations with scientists to explore interspecies entanglements.
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