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In Search of Chemozoa - boredomresearch - aspex gallery - Portsmouth - 19 May - 25 July 2021

Commissioned and funded by the Arizona Cancer Evolution Center at the Biodesign Institute (USA) boredomresearch have been collaborating with scientists for over ten years.

In Search of Chemozoa is exploring new perspectives in response to the first study of cancer across species and as such it is a poetic rendering of a computer simulated, or 'in silico' model organism called Chemozoa. Combining computer animation, filmed environments and scientific speculation boredomresearch weave a semi-fictional narrative [1]

"Alone, quiet with their unrest, the new arrivals tremble in crevices, harvesting a bittersweet coating of nutritious contamination. A toxic feast for tiny feverish suns. Each emitting a fragile light, gilding the surface on which it wonders." [2]

The Chemozoa are modelled and animated using behavioural animation. Having its roots in John Conway's Game of Life and cellular automata their program has cancer woven in.

They became fascinated by what the scientists were seeing through their microscopes. The mixing of live action - seascapes with computer animation of the Chemozoa works well and reminds me of Shezad Dawood's films. Presumably this is to convince us of the reality of the Chemozoa. This making visible the invisible - much like looking through a microscope - computer animation does very well.

The Chemozoa glow and shimmer in the water. Their behavioural aesthetic is one of spikes and cells, the lower red cells feeding the upper cells which are the propagating ground for the cancer. It is poetic in the way that these fictional organisms elucidate the way other creatures have cancer and live with it.

The scientists boredomresearch collaborated with are looking to a future where we can live with cancer, rather than try to eradicate it from our bodies. As such boredom research are investigating this kind of biodiversity in their work.

At the aspex gallery the sound on the installation was poor which I found disappointing. I also think there should have been more information about how the work was made.This is thankfully the case with their online exhibition of the work which is available until the end of August.

[1] aspex gallery text with additions

[2] In Search of Chemozoa Script (2020) boredomresearch

In Search of Chemozoa online exhibition

aspex gallery