These transparent glass sculptures were created to contemplate the global impact of each disease and to consider how the artificial colouring of scientific imagery affects our understanding of phenomena. Jerram is exploring the tension between the artworks’ beauty, what they represent and their impact on humanity.
The question of pseudo-colouring in biomedicine and its use for science communicative purposes, is a vast and complex subject. If some images are coloured for scientific purposes, and others altered simply for aesthetic reasons, how can a viewer tell the difference? How many people believe viruses are brightly coloured? Are there any colour conventions and what kind of ‘presence’ do pseudocoloured images have that ‘naturally’ coloured specimens don’t? See these examples of HIV imagery. How does the choice of different colours affect their reception?
In response to these questions, Jerram has created a series of transparent, three dimensional sculptures. Photographs of these artworks are being distributed to act as alternative representations of each virus. Ironically in 2007 photographer David Sayer won an award from the Institute of Medical Imaging for the artificially coloured image he took of Jerrams HIV sculpture.
The sculptures were designed in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol using a combination of different scientific photographs and models. They were made in collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch.