A collaboration with immunologists and microbiologists Linda Horianopoulos, Kylynda Bauer and Mihai Cirstea
Crossing, an interactive puzzle painting, is the result of a collaboration with a group of scientists for the Invasive Systems exhibition during Curiosity Collider’s Collisions Festival.
Here is the piece in action and a few details about the imagery in the puzzle’s solution. I’ve also written about the collaboration and process of making the piece here.
Crossing is an interactive puzzle that encourages viewers to contemplate our relationship with the microbes that inhabit our surfaces and those that cross over our protective barriers. The puzzle examines the role the microbial community plays in our behaviour and health.
During the exhibition, many people attempted to solve the puzzle. Few were able to do it without the help of my hint window, but all attempts were made with enthusiasm and a passion for science, art and the games many of us loved growing up.
Using the branching fractal as multi-functional motif to represent everything from microbial colonies, nervous system and microglia, vascular system and blood-brain-barrier, I emphasize the relationship they have with one another. The puzzle element brings to our attention the complexity of these relationships and our understanding of what promotes health and what leads to illness.
The solution to the puzzle is an image composed of a brain and gut with subtle facial expressions delineated in the two branches of the vagus nerve connecting them to each other. This interior landscape also doubles as an exterior landscape, with sky, land and weather patterns, suggesting that our environment is as much existing within us as around us.
I would like to thank Linda Horianopoulos, Kylynda Bauer, Mihai Cirstea (the microbiologists and immunologists from UBC) for their contributions to this project.