‘Loop Hole’ exhibition took place in April 2016 and showcased recent outcomes from a collaborative partnership between the Structural Genomics Consortium in Oxford and students from Fine Art and Interior Architecture.
The SGC are a network of medical research labs that facilitate therapeutic drug discovery by producing knowledge about the function of proteins in the human body. The collaboration made a valuable contribution to a dialogue between art and science, and bridged the gap between two forms of knowledge – scientific and aesthetic.
The SGC invited the students to develop artworks and design concepts in response to their particular drug research activities, as well as to the more general theme of the cultural implications of work in biotechnology and medicine. Students responded to the brief in diverse ways, and with very different aims and interests. Some sought to visualise the complex biological mechanisms involved in disease and treatment, and to transform scientific knowledge into experiential forms, others focused on the impact that contemporary medical research and biotechnology have had on broader society.
As examples of these interests, George Marguet-Pew examined cultural attitudes to medicine and disease in a two channel video piece which juxtaposed images of ritual purification with images of cleaning routines used in the SGC lab, making connections between health and healing practices in both scientific and non-scientific contexts, Rosie Stephens expressed well contemporary medicine’s molecular view of the human body in a sculpture consisting of a glass tank of water into which various elements to the same quantities as they occur in the artist’s own body where dissolved, and Natasha Salkeld brought a lighthearted tone to the exhibition in a video that reveals how SGC scientists anthropomorphise their austere hi-tech lab tools by assigning human names to them.
SGC said of the event: “The opportunity to collaborate with artists from AUB has given us a chance to see our research through new eyes and get a fresh perspective on how our work impacts others. This collaboration between researchers at the SGC and the artists of AUB is a unique way to engage beyond the lab and for us as scientists to discover new connections between our work and the people it impacts.”