September 8, 2009

Breathtaking Glass Sculptures - of Microbes


These beautiful glass sculptures by artist Luke Jerram are of germs.


Glass sculpture of the H1N1 influenza virus (Swine Flu) by Luke Jerram

According to Luke's website, he makes them of colorless glass as a commentary about the liberties scientific artists take with colors when making representations of these organisms. For example, a standard drawing you might see in class might look like this



In reality, none of those parts may have any color at all, and certainly not as visually pleasing (or well-labeled).

While I personally appreciate the use of color in biological drawings for learning purposes, I am still left speechless at the 3-dimensional beauty of these works. They leave any drawing or model in a textbook in the dust.

Glass sculpture of E. coli by Luke Jerram
Digitally colored 3D model of E. coli

Stunning. I knew my own felt versions were in need of serious detail, but as far as science goes, I have seen very few images of any kind that can compare with these, be it drawing, 3D model, sketch or photograph.
This microscope picture of the Flu virus appears green because of the fluorescent dye needed to look closely at the organisms.

Glass sculpture of Variola major (Smallpox) by Luke Jerram

My own Swine Flu, E. coli, and Smallpox are intentionally much more simplistic in form, and drawn from colored images used to identify and learn about each microbe. Mine are intended to convey the idea of the bacteria and a humorous twist to the way they are spread (breathing, which is why they smell good), rather than the actual representation. However, you can see how differently the same Flu virus can be drawn, depending on where you look.
These are the same Flu viruses that are represented in the green image above, but created by different designers.

 
Glass sculpture of the SARS Corona virus by Luke Jerram
The artist has a clear point to his work, one that I can definitely see the purpose in, and his execution of the idea is so beautiful as to leave us speechless. Simply amazing.
(All glass microbe pictures from LukeJerram.com and used with the artist's permission)
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