Intricate bacteria sculptures painstakingly hand-cut from paper (Wired UK)

Rogan Brown

The intersection of science and art often plays out in big,
glitzy spectacles. Whether it’s the razzle-dazzle and lights of the
Barbican’s Digital Revolutions exhibit, or a software glitch in
the Hubble telescope creating accidental paintings using the stars themselves. But there’s
much to be said for Rogan Brown’s lo-fi minimalist reinventions of
the microscopic.

The artist’s latest works, titled Outbreak, are
painstakingly cut from countless layers of paper and foamboard to
resemble different bacteria. Among the microbes Brown studied in
preparation for the undertaking, which took four months overall
(one to draw, two to hand cut and one to piece them together)
are proteus bacteria, Escherichia coli, salmonella, hyphae,
Spirillum volutans and Vibrio cholerae. To complete the look, the
paper sculptures are then encased in a transparent half-dome,
mimicking cell body walls, or a petri dish, or microscope eyepiece.
Art is quite subjective, apparently, a point Brown is eager to
point out.

“I hasten to add that my work is not accurate scientific
representation; the real is the starting point, the imaginary the
goal,” Rogan told “I seek to create icons or
archetypes. My belief is that science and art are both ways of
seeking higher truth, science through factual, empirical research,
art through transformation of the factual through the imaginary, to
create an intuitive, emotional truth.”

Outbreak is a continuation of a set of work Brown
completed last year, focusing again on the detail of paper-cut
organic structures, including seed cross sections, for which he was
awarded the Best Installation prize at the National Open Art
exhibition in 2013 (by  Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones). The works he has
created can certainly be said to capture something of the factual
in an imaginative way. Among the scenes depicted in detail are
clusters of bacteria, reminiscent of the spiked, comma-shaped
bodies and long flagellum — or tail — of Vibrio cholerae, and
what appears to be a cell undergoing one of the division stages in

“It is the difference between understanding landscape by looking
at a map and understanding it by looking at a painting by Monet,”
Rogan said. “I want the viewer to be drawn into my work, to study
the detail and to feel the whole. Hope that makes sense.”

We nod, sagely.

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