Feature: Novel thinking on a nanoscale
10 March 2009. By Chrissie Giles
"If I had made only one work, it wouldn't have been enough for a field as big as nanotechnology," says artist Julie Freeman, who has just completed a residency at the Microsystems and Nanotechnology Centre at Cranfield University.
So, working closely with Professor Jeremy Ramsden, Chair of Nanotechnology at Cranfield, she produced 'Nano Novels' - a series of 16 pieces of art. This series is just part of the work produced during her residency, which was funded by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award for small- to medium-sized projects.
"I began by trying to work out what to do with nanotechnology. It's a massive field and there are lots of different areas, all of which are interesting in their own right," says Freeman. During a year of meetings and discussions with Professor Ramsden, they created scientific descriptions of different aspects of nanotechnology. To 16 of these they added a headline, a short piece of fiction and a graphic to produce 'Nano Novels'.
Freeman's earlier works have often had a biological aspect to them, yet the form of 'Nano Novels' surprised her. "When the project began, we had no idea at all what we were going to produce," she says. "As an artist, I write software and do a lot of environmental sound recording. I use live data to make the artwork, which means it's often unpredictable. In this project I ended up making large-scale images - a real departure from my normal work."
She drew the initial images by hand and then converted them to graphics. The resulting large-scale artworks, measuring 1.8 by 1.2 metres, were installed on the Cranfield campus in late 2008 - the first-ever art installation at the University.
Freeman and Ramsden are currently writing a paper that explores the definition of the nanoscale. See all 16 artworks images and accompanying text online, along with photos of the installation and further information about Freeman's residency.