Flow State

Flow State is an interactive digital video sculpture commissioned by the Francis Crick Institute in London.

flow state interactive digital video sculpture
Flow State – Photo by Fiona Hanson

The installation explores the work of the Francis Crick Institute, a place dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. The artist has created this stunning digital artwork by juxtaposing and overlaying hundreds of film clips collected through unprecedented access to the landmark building, the scientists and the research taking place inside.

The title refers to the creative process at the heart of both artistic and scientific creativity and alludes to the flow of genetic information in molecular biology. In May’s own work he frequently describes entering a flow state when he edits and layers film or writes the bespoke software he uses to create his artworks. Similarly, scientists describe entering flow states as they perform repetitive, rhythmic tasks in the laboratory. The work explores the similarities between artistic and scientific creativity.

Alex May said: “It has been an incredible and complex journey for me to work in collaboration with a whole institution. I want the work to show the beauty and diversity of the scientific research I have been so privileged to be allowed to observe, the importance of the researchers themselves, and the way this huge new institute facilitates new ways of working.”

Flow State is situated in the front window of the Francis Crick Institute, opposite St Pancras Station. The interactive sculpture changes as viewers approach it, revealing new details about the research and the life of the institute. A Raspberry Pi computer controls each screen. The reverse of the sculpture reveals a stunning light installation based on a sequence of DNA, the structure of which was co-discovered by Sir Francis Crick himself.

The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King’s College London.

News

  • Talk: Digital Arts Practice in the time of the Pandemic - July 20, 2020
    Alex May will preview new work in response to the pandemic lock down, exploring the opportunities and drawbacks of dissemination of digital arts online.
  • TECHnique Interview - March 24, 2020
    Richard F Adams speaks to Alex May, a British contemporary artist whose practice forges links between art, science and technology through a wide range of digital new media.
  • Trebuchet Audio Interview - January 4, 2020
    A recording of the live interview from Trebuchet’s Time & Space talks event in October 2019
  • Artistic Exploration of BioRobotics and Sequencing - January 31, 2019
    Alex May gave a talk about art science collaboration, robot art projects, Flow State, Sequence VR, sequence music, and algorithmic photography at the SynBio and Art conference at Warwick University.
  • Francis Crick Institute commission - June 1, 2017
    Alex May Arts has been awarded a prestigious art commission to design and create a captivating new digital artwork for permanent installation in the front window of the Francis Crick Institute in London. The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping ...

Media

An Artist’s Insight into the Day-to-Day Life at the Francis Crick Institute
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