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04 Jun 2015

Transmissions is an exhibition that explores the microbial world and the implications of human co-existence with microbial life. The exhibition features work by artists who have collaborated with scientists to consider representations of microbial life, the global impact of microbial diseases and the evolution of antimicrobial resistance.

Identifying microbial traits and how ecological interaction with hosts, vectors and other parasites can shape the evolution of pathogen traits is the focus of much scientific research. Scientists are also examining the dynamics of the spread of pathogens throughout populations of hosts. A better understanding of variation in the spread and severity of disease can help make control measures and the design of effective interventions as resilient as possible in the face of pathogen evolution.

Efforts to prevent and treat infectious diseases such as malaria have been on-going for centuries.

However, the parasites responsible for the disease remain a step ahead of those who fight them, and still cause widespread death. For bacterial infections, we are poised to enter a ‘post-antibiotic’ era. The World Health Organization estimates that antibiotics treatments add an average of 20 years to all of our lives. But in the 80 years since the discovery of penicillin, our overuse of antibiotics has put pressure on bacteria to evolve resistance, leading to the emergence of untreatable superbugs that threaten the basis of modern medicine.

This exhibition brings to Dundee recent art works made as a result of a residency programme at the Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution (CIIE) at the University of Edinburgh supported by ASCUS Art & Science, a non-profit organisation based at Summerhall in Edinburgh. For 14 days over a three-month period at the start of the year, artists Mark Doyle, Jo Hodges & Robbie Coleman, and Anne Milne were immersed in the microscopic alien world at the root cause of large-scale human diseases. Their micro-residencies allowed them to consider how contemporary society is challenged by the evolution of the microbial world.

Through scientific engagement, each of the artists featured has developed a new perspective on infectious disease. Doyle achieves this through the interpretation of the internal and external landscapes of malaria, while Hodges and Coleman delve into the implications of human co-existence with microbial life. Milne attempts to uncover the unseen part of disease and uses the microscopic lens as a metaphor to observe the scientists behind the science.

This exhibition also brings together historical artefacts from both the University of Dundee Archives and Museum Collections and information about current of research being conducted at both the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh in this area.

Transmissions is supported by the Medicines for Malaria Venture and is a partnership between LifeSpace and ASCUS Art & Science.