One Cell a a Time combines art and science! It is a public engagement project with the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) that ran from September 2020 to November 2021, aimed at promoting the HCA's research and making science more accessible. For this, One Cell at a Time worked with 10 artists in cities around the UK to create artwork in response to HCA's research that were then shown in an online exhibition in late 2021.
The Human Cell Atlas' research is global and hugely impactful in its scope. By aiming to map every cell type in the human body the research has the potential to transform future healthcare and medicine.
Fusion Arts were active in supporting the initiative, working alongside the artist duo boredomresearch as Community Engagement Producer for Oxford. We supported the duo as they created their commissioned artwork, a short film entitled Call of the Silent Cell, and delivered workshops with students at local colleges Activate Learning and EMBS Sixth Form, which used bespoke software that simulates a gamified version of an immune response known as a 'cytokine storm' to explore the research into cells, autoimmune diseases and ecological systems.
In April 2021, One Cell at a Time and Fusion Arts hosted Datarama Oxford, an online get-together for Oxford creatives and scientists to share their tech and sci-art projects. 15 people from Oxfordshire including artists, musicians and researchers came together to share their innovative work, exchange ideas, give feedback and get to know others.
These attendees and other community members were invited to attend One Cell At A Time's next event event, Maker Jam, which ran in June 2021. Maker Jam, was a week long get-together for creatives and scientists around the UK to produce fun, creative projects based on the HCA research. Fusion helped to recruit participants and speakers, supporting four artists to creatively respond to a sci-art challenge delivered by boredomresearch and inspired by their Call of the Silent Cell work. The challenge was to play, experiment and gamify cellular interactions within the immune system during a cycle of overreaction called a 'cytokine storm'.
Artist Olivia Silverstein developed a series of playful clips around the idea of mimicry amongst cells meanwhile Joanna Kidner and Cathrin Poppensieker visualised what happens when cell tissue production goes wrong and a defective cell cluster starts mimicking healthy cells, going undetected by the immune system. You can view examples of this work here.
Artist Tom Milnes developed Invisible Cities, an interactive work which mimics cytokine storms as a comment on climate change, looking at the micro and macro duality of ecological impacts. This work would go on to be featured in the One Cell At A Time exhibition and can be viewed here.
Call of the Silent Cell is an experimental short film created by boredomresearch, produced by Fusion Arts and commissioned by One Cell At A Time. This piece looks at cellular behaviour, exploring the interplay between the gut microbiome, the immune system and wider concerns of human and environmental health. The film journeys with an old man who wanders through a forest during a cytokine storm, meditating on the fragility of his body and the environment.
Debuting on 29 October 2021, the One Cell At A Time exhibition features artworks have been created through virtual collaborations between visual and digital artists, inventors, designers, poets and dancers, members of the HCA, local communities and schoolchildren from across the United Kingdom (including Oxford) throughout 2020 and 2021. Together, they creatively explore and respond to the science of the HCA initiative, as well public attitudes towards body, tissue and data donation for research.
In late October 2021, the launch of the One Cell At A Time online exhibition was celebrated in Oxford with the debut film screening of Call of the Silent Cell in our creative space space 95 Gloucester Green and a display in the #WindowGalleries! At the launch event, attendees had the opportunity to meet and chat to Paul Smith and Vicky Isley of boredomresearch as well as collaborator and HCA member Marcin Pekalski, and ask them questions about the work.
For those who missed it, the film was also projected in the #WindowGalleries for the public to enjoy over the course of the next month. Call of the Silent Cell and the One Cell At A Time exhibition are still available to view online here.
Fusion Arts work with artists, groups and communities from across Oxfordshire and beyond to support a variety of imaginative and socially engaged projects.
Long term project using interactive art strategies to develop speech and language in young children.
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