UTS Journalism, Social and Political Science, Creative Intelligence and Innovation student with a keen interest in sport and social justice
Artists at this year’s Vivid Sydney Festival are using science to inform the public about world-leading breakthroughs in infectious diseases.
Titled Beautiful and Dangerous, the immersive projection at The Rocks takes visitors on a personal encounter with the infectious biological agents most known to affect human health.
Christopher Hammang, Biomedical Animator at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and one of the artists responsible for designing the installation, said the display will help to unlock the secrets that will control and eliminate diseases in the future.
“Viruses are way too small to see by eye but they have a tremendous impact on our health and wellbeing,” he said.
“This public display allows us to shine a spotlight on the brilliant research which has shown us what viruses look like and spread that insight to everyone in Sydney… who might not have pursued that science otherwise.”
Ebola, Zika, and Influenza are a selection of diseases that will be magnified up to a billion times, providing a unique glimpse into the research being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) - Australia’s national science agency - as well as the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
“Every breath of air, every sip of water, everything we eat is awash with vast numbers of [..] viruses and bacteria, each evolved as strikingly beautiful geometric forms; but some are among our most dangerous enemies.” #BeautifulandDangerous @VividSydney @CSIROnews pic.twitter.com/tcjW71L3zz— Garvan Institute (@GarvanInstitute) May 15, 2018
Infectious diseases accounted for upwards of 50,000 deaths in Australia in 2016.
CSIRO Health and Biosecurity spokeswoman Ofa Fitzgibbons said local scientists were playing a leading international role in the prevention, detection and treatment of some of the world’s most deadly viruses.
“If we can understand how animals such as bats control infection, it offers the potential to identify therapeutics that will allow us to redirect the immune response of humans and other species so that they respond to infection the same way that bats do,” Mrs. Fitzgibbons said.
“This will help to control and mitigate outbreaks of emerging diseases and to underpin national security preparedness against pandemic and bioterrorist threats.”
Vivid’s Curator of Light Anthony Bastic said the display represents the core message of Vivid Sydney through its fascinating combination of "art, technology and innovation".
“The form and structure of bacteria and viruses are so strikingly unique and geometric,” Mr. Bastic said.
“The science which is at the core of this installation is important to us as everyday people, and though it is not often drawn to attention, this line of research has big impacts for everyone.”
Vivid is now in its 10th year and Mr. Hammang said he was interested to see more science-based visualisation projects included in the Vivid Sydney light displays since its inception.
“It’s an honour to have my work included in this year’s festival and to represent our understanding of nanoscopic biological structures publicly,” he said.
Vivid runs from the May 25 to June 16 between 6pm and 11pm every night.