Tissue Cultures Point of View

(2010 – Ongoing)

In the early 20th century, Dr Honor Fell from the Strangeways laboratories in Cambridge coined the term “tissue culture point of view”. Such a view acknowledged the phenomenon of recursive scaling where animals, humans and cellular processes maintain similar patterns of symmetry regardless of scale, and function in unique ways. Analogies between human and cellular organisms are to be carefully considered given this fact, she argued. Regardless of scale and point of view, it is difficult to avoid the anthropocentric view and personalize encounters with the cellular and microbial world. In the laboratory setting, scientists and artists often talk to their cell cultures or refer to them as “happy” or “sad”. This projection explores the complexities of recursive scaling from the cellular to the human organism.

Visitors are invited to lay down on the floor and look up to the ceiling projection. The video image reflects a large pipette tip that continuously allocates nutrient solution into a petri dish that becomes the frame of the image, and the interface between image and the viewers’ body. The scale of the image reverses the conventional perspective of looking down when feeding, growing and observing tissue culture cell lines through the microscope. The viewers’ body becomes tissue culture through the scaling of proximity and size. The irony in this gesture of reverse positioning is implicated by the very fact that the human can never seen the tissue culture point of view. The reliance on vision as a primary form of perception, and the human point of view is not necessary compatible with the microbial world- particularly through the isolation of living microorganisms through in-vitro experiments- that do not replicate the same environmental conditions affecting living systems outside of the laboratory context.

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