SCIENCE MEETS ART IN DEL MAR: Visualizing the Beauty and Complexity of the Living Cell

On January 18, a DMFTalk and art show, “Art Meets Science: Visualizing the Hidden Beauty and Complexity Inside the Living Cell,” will bring the submicroscopic world of cells into focus, providing the public a fascinating glimpse into the experimental and computational capabilities science now has to develop models of the workings of cells – the basic unit of all life – down to the atomic level.


The art show will include works ranging from watercolors to fashion design by highly regarded practitioners in this field. The talks will feature four world renowned scientist/artists whose works have been shown widely in venues ranging from science and art museums to broadcast television and film. Registration for this free event at Town Hall will be available online at beginning in mid-December.


Cells range in size and complexity from simple bacteria to human cells. Because of the complexity of even the simplest cells, which are composed of millions of biological molecules (e.g. proteins, DNA, RNA, carbohydrates and lipids) of thousands of different varieties and structures, visualization is key to integrating and understanding how they all work together to create the process of life. This is where art can play a significant role by making this information comprehensible and by bringing the hidden beauty of this submicroscopic world into focus for not only scientists, but also for students and the general public.


Visualizing the inner workings of the fundamental basis of life – the cell – will be also be the focus of a group of scientists, technologists and artists from around the world who will meet in here in January, gathering for a 3-day conference to share a remarkable variety of perspectives on cell visualization that range from experiment to model to interpretation to visualization and communication. Visualizing and interacting with these models will enable greater understanding of living systems and will have enhanced utility for application in medicine and technology.


Art Olson, a professor at Scripps Research, has worked over the past 40 years on modeling, visualization and analysis of biological assemblies spanning length scales from atoms to cells, and is an organizer of the CellVis conference occurring in at Scripps in January 2024.

Photo courtesy Beata Science Art