New interactive art installation unveiled

Flow State, a new interactive digital installation facing out from the foyer of the Francis Crick Institute, was unveiled on 12 July. Through unprecedented access, artist Alex May has collected, juxtaposed and overlaid hundreds of film clips to create an intriguing glimpse into the Crick.

The artwork can sense when it is being closely observed, revealing more about itself as the viewer approaches.

Artist Alex May with his installation Flow State.

Artist Alex May with his digital interactive installation, Flow State

- Fiona Hanson

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 sits in the front window of the Crick, facing 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 Francis Crick himself.

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