Flow State

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

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 will be 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. It is controlled by a complex network of Raspberry Pi computers, one per 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.


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

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