Visualizing Processes of Theoretical Biology

Faculty Mentor(s): 
Greg Niemeyer (Art Practice) and Terry Deacon (Anthropology)
Student Apprentice(s): 
Ian Cheng

A short computer graphics animation “Autocell” describes Terry Deacon’s theory of primal cell formation as a process of molecular self-assembly. The theory is so far very successful and has far-reaching implications, but has one challenge: it is very hard to describe with words. As the movie shows, computer graphics offer the dynamic vocabulary necessary to make the theory salient, and to further refine some of the dynamic aspects of the theory. This and many similar cases call for a true interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropologists and artists.

The project involved Student Apprentice Ian Cheng, who truly integrated the scientific and creative thought as well as the corresponding toolsets in producing computer graphic simulations.