VIRTUAL LIFE is work that has resulted from Erica's use 3D micro X-ray computer tomography (3D Micro-CT). A resident researcher in the CT Laboratory at the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics, Erica has been investigating the virtual capture of dynamic phenomena of germinating seeds as they transform from embryo to first leaf. Her work Virtual Life displays a moment captured in the stage where mung beans and alfalfa seeds start to grow roots and leaves. As an artist Erica is using this science and technology innovatively by looking at the aesthetic potential for this virtual data to be experienced through different mediums such as inkjet printing.
In this work, Erica has printed the resulting image onto a highly mirrored surface so as to best represent the beautiful translucency of X-ray in combination with the three-dimensional qualities of ‘virtual’ data. Although this is a two-dimensional representation of her work, the reflective material creates an optical experience to make it look as if the image is floating in space like a hologram. Not only does the work reflect the surrounding environment, observers will catch their own reflections in the image in a moment of self-reflection.
Volumetric data acquired from 3D and 4D Micro-CT is not visualised with conventional mesh framing as used in computer generated imaging CGI. Instead this is true virtual data which can only be rendered in specialised volumetric exploration software to accurately represent the original organic material down to a resolution of two microns. Erica have visualised this data herself in a custom-designed software Drishti (meaninginsight in Sanskrit) which has been developed by Dr Limaye at VisLab in the ANU Supercomputer Facility, NCI (National Computational Infrastructure).
Through her practice, Erica is exploring how science and art can both engage us with the natural world through processes of rational observation and subjective experience. VIRTUAL LIFE reflects a techno-scientific culture where our relationship to nature and experience of the natural world is increasingly mediated through technology. Our own reflections in the surface of this work position us in the present but our ability to cultivate plants also represents our survival and the continuity of human culture. In this work Erica is looking to create an experience of wonder, such as the experience of looking down a microscope, so that an audience may contemplate the ordinary phenomena of a plants germinating from a different perspective, to perhaps consider idea of life in our own time and the future of life on this planet.
School of Art, Inkjet Research Facility, ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences
Department of Applied Mathematics,
Research School of Physics & Engineering
ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences
VizLab, ANU Supercomputer Facility, National Computational Infrastructure, NCI