Science meets art in our current exhibition CAPSID from artist John Walter. HOME Digital Reporter Shaun Clydesdale takes a closer look…
A capsid is a protein shell contained within viruses. It helps protect and deliver those viruses to host cells during infection. It sounds an unlikely spark to inspire an exhibition, and a potentially dry and impenetrable subject matter. Artist John Walter confounds such expectations and shares what he has learned about the world of viral capsids via an exhibition that plunders popular culture, utilises a dizzying array of techniques and deploys colour with eye-popping abandon.
John describes his multi-media exhibition as being maximalist, an approach best translated as “more is more”, although in this case that’s perhaps an understatement. HOME’s gallery walls are crammed with an excess of things to look at – including animation, video, metal screens, drawings and paintings. That’s not all – a series of works are laid out for display beneath a perspex-covered floor, a gang of mannequins sport a collection of customised onesies and sculptural fists occasionally thrust out from the walls.
Behind the busy glare, there’s a lot of detail to absorb if you’re that way inclined. The Co-factor paintings, for example, are named after the particles that interact with the capsid to set in train a viral process, while visually they reference a similar process through the use of multiplying brand imagery and logos. The exhibition’s film A Virus Walks Into The Bar is described as a “viral soap opera” – and it can be enjoyed as a dark and unsettling David Lynch-style mini drama, although its storyline actually depicts a cell under attack from an incoming virus.
Perhaps the most illuminating way to experience the exhibition is through the words of John Walter himself. Download his audio guide by scanning your phone’s camera over the QR code at the entrance for an engaging overview of the exhibition and insights into how the world of capsids influenced not just the finished art works, but also the techniques used to make them.
This isn’t however an exhibition just for boffins. CAPSID’s appeal is broad. For all its talk of molecules, enzymes and proteins, the exhibition’s vibrant palette and cartoonish shapes offer up an effortless and indulgent visual feast, as well as an abundance of opportunities for some uncomplicated but aesthetically pleasing Instagramming. So get the scientific big picture, or if you prefer, just take (and tag) a #CAPSID photo, and go viral…
CAPSID continues in our main gallery until Sun 6 Jan 2019. Find out more here.