Success for sci-art collaboration 'Afterglow' at prestigious digital art award

Afterglow—a science-art collaboration between Institute researcher Dr Paddy Brock and artists Vicky Isley and Paul Smith of Boredomresearch—has won The Lumen Prize 'Moving Image Award'. The Lumen Prize is a prestigious digital art prize.

Afterglow is part of the Wellcome Trust-funded project Silent Signal, which brought six artists working with animation together with six leading biomedical scientists to create new experimental artworks. The outputs of the project (animations, exhibitions and online resources) aim to engage young people and non-specialists with research in an innovative and creative way, and to develop new ways in which scientists can widen and diversify the impact of their research.

Paddy collaborated with boredomresearch, digital artists based at the NCCA (Bournemouth University), who use similar tools to mathematical biologists – software, code, visualisations – but for different purposes. Paddy said, "It has been fascinating to explore our very different motivations for building simulation models that are mechanistically very similar."

Afterglow explores the complexities of a malaria infection transmission scenario, placing the audience in the perspective of the mosquitoes. The digital animation won the The Lumen Prize Moving Picture Award at a ceremony in London on Thursday 29th September.

Find out more about Afterglow on the Silent Signal project site, where you can also watch an extended interview with boredomresearch and Dr Paddy Brock.

AfterGlow (Susceptible, Exposed, Infected, 'Recovered') from Animate Projects on Vimeo.
A film by boredomresearch (@boredomresearch), in collaboration with , University of Glasgow
An Animate Projects commission, supported by the Wellcome Trust

AfterGlow (Susceptible, Exposed, Infected, 'Recovered') is a film made using sequences from a real-time digital artwork; informed by models of disease transmission, on a Malaysian island. Locked in perpetual twilight (prime mosquito blood-feeding time), the film presents a terrain progressively illuminated by glowing trails, evocative of mosquito flight paths. These spiralling forms represent packets of blood, carried by mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium knowlesi, a malaria parasite recently found to jump the species barrier from monkey to human.

The film captures the infection left in the wake of wandering macaques as they search the island for food and reveals the intimate relationship between disease and its environment. Here we see how the island’s empty dark mountains are quickly engulfed with glowing forms. The viewer journeys through the different stages of infection. Starting with delicately spiralling cells of colour that form clusters and then becoming turbulent when infectious. Where the infection is most dense, we see a blizzard of disease, vividly expressing the complexity of this dangerous scenario.

First published: 30 September 2016