Art meets Science: Inspiration is important for a researcher

Published on
September 7, 2018

Diana Machado de Sousa, associate professor at Microbiology, is one of the researchers who are involved in the 100 Years WUR project ‘Creative innovation: Art meets Science’. She explains her motivation to interact with artists and to join this project together with other researchers and artists.

She met ‘her’ artist Charlie Williams together with artist Ludmilla Rodrigues for the first time at her office in Helix to discuss the project, to exchange ideas and to make a plan for working together. “It was nice to inform them about my work in the lab and to hear their ideas about creating their art during the two month period of their residency in Wageningen. Their approach and topics were very different. Ludmilla was interested in resilience of people to earth quakes and was still seeking for the idea connecting her view and Wageningen research. She was very open to suggestions. Charlie on the other hand had a clear concept. He already knew that he was going to simulate an organism by using electric circuits. These circuits are communicating with each other and with their environment by infrared lights. Like a network of fungi or bacteria. I found this idea very much connected to my research in microbiology.”

Mutual inspiration

Charlie Williams is interested in networks and started his art making in music and sound. He developed himself to work with software and now he is working with electrical circuits. Diana told him that she always liked the sounds produced by the equipment in the laboratory. She suggested Charlie these ‘lab sounds’ could be a nice idea for a next work. Diana: “At the first meeting, Charlie was very decided to build this impressive colony of tiny computers. I’m curious to see how my input will be incorporated in the final result.”

Peculiar family portraits

Diana herself was inspired by microbiology and the fact the microbes are all around us. She wanted to have a more original picture of her son in her workplace. “People usually have family pictures around them, but I wanted something with a different message that only I knew. This gave me the idea to make a handprint and a footprint of my son in a petri dish. The microbes that grow on this dish give an artful pattern. In reaction on this idea, Charlie made a family portrait with petri dishes.” This is an example how researcher and artist can mutual inspire each other.

Portrait of the Williams family with Charlie as second from the right, his partner second from left and their two kids on the outside.
Portrait of the Williams family with Charlie as second from the right, his partner second from left and their two kids on the outside.

Think outside your work

“Inspiration is important for a researcher”, says Diana. “That is the reason I joined this project. I also asked around who on our lab wants to work together with one of the coming artists in this Creative Innovation project. As researchers we have to be creative in our work to find new approaches. That’s why I like the exhibitions in Impulse. To get inspiration for my own work.
In my opinion it is also important that researchers think outside their work and connect with the public. And the other way around; the public should be able to take note of our research. Maybe we as WUR should start a museum where we show our work. This project Creative Innovation: Art meets Science is a good initiative.
Next time I will definitely participate again. I’m looking forward to the final presentation of Charlie and Ludmilla and the other artists. I’m curious how the collaboration between other researchers and artist worked out.”

Creative Innovation; Art meets Science series runs until the end of November.

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