Thursday, 31 May 2012

Drew Berry on Visualising Science, DNA Transcription

Drew Berry: Animations of unseeable biology

10 DNA Transcription and Protein Assembly

Focus Down

Ok I think I will have to focus down on one biological process.

Symbiosis might be good because its quite vague and you might be able to apply it to lots of things.

It could also be used quite easily to espouse a kind of socialist agenda. I'm not really sure if this is good or bad.

Something more specific like Protein Synthesis or Neurotransmission might be easier, because it's a specific process. It's also not so easily manipulated into a political metaphor, which might give more freedom.

I think there will need to be meta-commentary- in the form of a presenter- maybe with cloying-madteacher face paint (live action filmed).

Then we close into the cell, the nucleus, there is a voice over describing the process and the different players of the biological process have different characters.

The philosophical implications of the process is explored, either by the presenter or by another method. Preferably by another method, because we don't really like the presenter, she represents a kind of manipulated view of the scientific process.

References to pop culture and everyday mundane things are used.

Boring animations of Biological Processes

Protein Synthesis- Translation

Neurotransmission- Acetylcholine

Guardian Dopamine Film

In this film about dopamine, we learn how too much mediates an addictive personality and not enough causes parkinson's disease.

It's a really interesting idea I think, but the way it's presented, perhaps a little drab. No offence to the presenter, but I think he has quite a boring voice.

I think the video could be made more entertaining by giving a kind of personality to dopamine.

Dopamine- The two-faced molecule behind addiction and Parkinson's

Woody Allen- Everything you wanted to know about sex

Woody Allen- Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask, 1972.

This really funny movie describes the biological signaling involved in having sex. Actors play nervous sperm cells and authoritative officers at control desks in different parts of the brain.

Giving Biological agents (molecules, cells etc) characters

I think I need to give biological components characters, like the cells in Once Upon A Time.... Life.

For example, enzymes can be blocked by non-competitive or competitive inhibitors.

Competitive Inhibitors attach to the enzyme where the enzyme normally binds to the molecule  it usually catalyses (the active site). Non- competitive Inhibitors bind to some other part of the enzyme, but change the shape of the active site so the normal molecule it catalyses cannot attach.

I often think of this process in terms of when somebody is in a relationship with someone, but they don't really like them that much, they really fancy someone else. But the boyfriend or girlfriend they have acts as an competitive inhibitor by a blocking potential love between two people who really like each other.

An example of a non-competitive inhibitor might be when all parties are single, but one person has declared an attraction to another person. This declaration prevents another person from trying to form a relationship with them, so as not to compromise a friendship.

Illustration to come....

Other Character Ideas

A manic dopamine molecule, mediating addiction

Serotonin molecules after ecstasy comedown.

DNA- Transcription- Translation

An authoritative DNA molecule dictates instructions to RNA, a tired ribosome translates information from RNA to amino acids.

What am I trying to do?

What am I trying to do?

Think about ...

a) how to make science engaging

b) how science communications communicates an underlying ideology (and how this ideology can be challenged through absurdist comedy)

-I need to do some research about 'symbiosis'

-I need to do some drawings and plans.

- I need to plan an event, an event where feedback can be collected from attendees.
   From questions
   From their own questions

-I need to make some videos.
   Found footage editing (find a dvd ripper)
   Film myself and friends with costumes and facepaints on
   Animated drawings

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy. Episode 4- Phone Cake

I really like Noel Fielding's work (The above and The Mighty Boosh). I like how they mix the mystical and the mundane, all sorts of popular culture references and everyday stuff.

Also, rich the imagination and funny associations are really funny. I would like to use this technique to bring science alive.

The Onion - Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot

This is another Satirical News Show- The Earth quake is ignored and the images used to explain it is concentrated on.

I like this as I think Science is often explained in tired, predictable, cliched ways, and so the images become more important.

The Onion 2008

Brass Eye Graph

Brass Eye episode 1 Animals 1997 Chris Morris Channel 4

Brass Eye, a satirical News comedy, shows how factual television can be manipulated with seemingly innocuous graphics. The information given is essentially meaningless, but it has been made to seem important.

Brass Eye Episode 3 Science 1997 Chris Morris Channel 4



  [sim-bee-oh-sis, -bahy-]  Show IPA
noun, plural sym·bi·o·ses [-seez]  Show IPA.
Biology .
the living together of two dissimilar organisms, as inmutualism, commensalism, amensalism, or parasitism.
(formerly) mutualism def. 1 .
Psychiatry a relationship between two people in which eachperson is dependent upon and receives reinforcement,whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other.
Psychoanalysis the relationship between an infant and itsmother in which the infant is dependent on the mother bothphysically and emotionally.
any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationshipbetween two persons, groups, etc.
1615–25;  < Greek symbíōsis,  equivalent to sym- sym-  + biō (variant stem of bioûn  to live) + -sis -sis

sym·bi·ot·ic [sim-bee-ot-ik, -bahy-]  Show IPAsym·bi·ot·i·cal, adjective


Symbiosis Wikipedia entry

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


So I thought I could use the word "Symbiosis" as a kind of 'springboard for ideas' and experiment wide with that.

Video projections, fanzines, performances with face paint, tongue-in-cheek faux kids shows.

And also use it as some kind of getting people to be artists who are not usually artists.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen , The Fabulous Stains

I remember ages ago I watched this great film about an aspiring girl- punk rock band.

I was searching for this film and I found this list of must-see films for aspiring punk rock girls everywhere- very enjoyable!

I also found some other great films...

Sexploitation- Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell

Sexploitation- Reform School GIrls

Don't Need You- Riot Grrl Documentary

JUBILEE 1978, featuring Toyah Wilcox. Queen Elizabeth I travels to late twentieth-century Britain to discover a tawdry and depressing landscape where life mostly seems aimless and is anyway held cheap. Three post-punk girls while away their vacuous existence as best they can, from time-to-time straying into murder to relieve the boredom. 
Quite interesting as it's the Jubilee this weekend!!!!

Pancake Mountain

I wonder if I could make a kind of spoof kids' science tv show.

This, Pancake Mountain kind of does the same thing- it pretends to be for kids but it's really for adults. This might be a good way to analyse social effects and tacit assumptions of Scientific theories.

Object Writing

I went to an object writing class yesterday. You just pick an object, like "chair"and then you write whatever comes into your head. You're supposed to use all the senses like smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing and use all sorts of strange metaphors that don't really make sense like "she looked at me the with the vagueness of drugged music therapist"

It was very fun- and perhaps could give rise to some ideas...

Faking It

I remember my friend was working on a project trying to get young unemployed people back into work by copying the TV show, Faking It. This was a show where someone would have to pretend to be a professional chef, or opera singer, and experts would come and have to guess who was the 'faker'.

Faking It Young Foundation

I really like the project and I think it was quite successful- I wonder if I could do the same with Artists?

Maybe I could find unemployed young people from hanging around the job centre- or maybe it could be absolutely anyone.

I think I would have to do it in Cambridge really because that's where I live, although it's a bit ironic because there's less unemployment here.

I just think it's a bit unfeasible to do it Norwich because I'd have to keep going back and forth.

Monday, 28 May 2012


These are some Illustrations I came across in a textbook (New Headway Intermediate 2009). by Lorna Apps Woodland

It's an advert for a bullying charity and I think it's really powerful. 


I've come across this initiative, Somewhereto, a website designed to help 19-25 year olds find spaces to do stuff like dance or art for free.

19- 24 year old NEETs

The Design council have a competition to tackle 19- 24 year olds who are not in education or employment (NEETs), by using digital technology.

I think this competition is maybe a little too ambitious for me to get involved in, but I really like the idea of trying to help this issue.

Working Well Design Challenge Aims to Boost Employment for Young People

I have had a few friends who have been unemployed for a long time and it has been very frustrating and sad to see intelligent and interesting people lose confidence in themselves, etc.

Maybe I could do something similar to this competition.

Thoedore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity

I went to a conversation dinner thing the other day. It's based on the teachings of Theodore Zeldin, a philosopher and historian who wrote An Intimate History of Humanity. He thinks people don't talk to each other enough about deep personal things so he set up these dinners where you meet strangers and ask intimate questions.

I'm really glad I went, I enjoyed it a lot. I reminds me a lot of teaching english as a foreign language. You have to ask personal questions all the time to get students to use the grammar. E.g. "What games did you use to play when you were younger?" Or " What do you wish you had done differently?"

Here is the menu- you are given questions to ask your stranger-partner over dinner. 

Article about Theodore Zeldin and the conversation dinners by Lloyd Davis

It would be a great way to make new friends if you move to a new place.

Although I enjoyed the experience a lot I think it would only work for certain kinds of introspective, perhaps a bit neurotic, articulate types (like characters from Woody Allen movies.)

Saturday, 26 May 2012


In the spirit of experimenting a bit more before I make a boring animation of a bunch of molecules, here is a trailer for a film about a new age cult from Brazil who think they come from a different planet. They like to dress up in ceremonial robes. I like this idea of starting your own religion- there is an element of subverting the imperialist power of Catholicism in Brazil.

A religion in Brazil believe they originate from the planet Capella. Their clothing helps them stay connected to their interplanetary spirit guides. Adrienne went and found a new life, incorporating spirituality with glamour.

This reminds of Sun ra, the jazz musician, who believes he comes from Saturn, in an attempt to find solace from living as a Second Class citizen in America. In his movie, Space is the Place, he shows life on Saturn as peaceful and cooperative.

Space Is The Place [Sun Ra Film 1974]

My Tutor also told me about this film, liquid sky. I don't realy know what it's about but it involves aliens and face paint.

Brother from Another Planet. I saw this film recently. An alien crash-lands on Earth, in New York City. He's mute, strongly empathic and able to fix things. He resembles a Black man with strange feet. His attempt to make a place for himself in Harlem is an allegory for the immigrant experience in the United States. Meanwhile, two bounty hunters from the Brother's home planet arrive and try to capture him.

Fantastic Planet. I also saw this quite recently, a czech former psychiatric nurse and a french animator teamed up to make this (very blue) film. People are really tiny and one is captured by huge beings who meditate all the time. They have made up all sorts of plants and creatures for this story. Like "Gabblesnapter" a beaked fighting beast that wraps it's tentacles around men...

Earth Girls are Easy, this is one of my favourite films, starring Gina Davis and Jim Carey. A bunch of aliens land in hollywood and are taken in by a sweet but air-headed nail technician. It has great music!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Feedback from other units

Yesterday I had some feedback from previous units.

For the Schizophrenia comic book, my tutor told me it was important to experiment more with different media and drawing styles.

He said it's better to think of one idea and experiment with that as much as possible, not to think of an end product.

For the sustainability video, I was told it's better to concentrate on something more experimental- not something educational.

I wonder if it's possible to mix up science and experimental works.

Pilobolus perform "Symbiosis" (TED)

This beautiful dance is supposed to represent symbiosis in nature- when two organisms mutually benefit each other.

I think it's an important thing to highlight as I think there has been a lot of emphasis on the success of the individual in nature (e.g. the "survival of the fittest" concept and Richard Dawkins' "The selfish gene")

I recently heard that Dawkins wishes he called it "the cooperative gene' as this would illustrate how genes work together to produce the expression and silencing of certain genes and come together to form proteins and enzyme pathways.

Maybe this is a bit of a leap, but I also think that perhaps this way of looking at nature, one gene or one organism finding success alone has been mythologised as justification for neo-liberal, unregulated economic policies.


Maybe I could do some projects on symbiotic creatures or molecules contrasting against an image of humans being quite un-symbiotic. That would probably be a bit too obvious and propagana-y though.  And of course I don't want to go to the extreme and force everyone to love each other all day long. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Michelle Thompson

I really love this Illustrator's work. It looks very easy but I'm sure it's really difficult to achieve this style.

  • Michelle Thompson: Global Christianity for Presbyterian Record

  • Michelle Thompson: Cloud Management for Cio magazine

  • Michelle Thompson: Electricity for Alberta Venture

    • Michelle Thompson: Teen Adult for The Globe & Mail