Digital interactive art installation 'Flow State', by artist Alex May

Flow State

Alex May, 2018

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Flow State is a double-sided sculpture that explores and reveals the inner workings of the Francis Crick Institute. The title refers to the creative process at the heart of both artistic and scientific creativity. It also alludes to the flow of genetic information in molecular biology. 

This commission was made possible thanks to the support of the Francis Crick Family Trust. The outward-facing films feature content created by a variety of Crick scientists, who are researching human diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, infections and neurodegenerative disease. 

Throughout 2017, digital artist Alex May was given unprecedented access to the Crick, and has collected, juxtaposed and overlaid hundreds of film clips to create an intriguing glimpse into Europe’s largest biomedical research institute under one roof. 

Facing outward towards St Pancras station is an interactive digital installation that can sense when it is being closely observed, revealing more about itself as viewers approach it. It focuses on three key elements: the scientific research taking place on site, the infrastructure of the landmark building, and the scientists who work inside. 

Inside, a light installation animating the screens follows the molecular patterns of the yeast genome. Many Crick scientists work with yeast as a model organism, including the Cell Cycle Laboratory, which is headed by the institute’s director Paul Nurse.

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