In the eye of the beholder
In the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Evolution
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In the Eye of the Beholder: Project
The original painting.
A detail of the original replicated and duplicated.
In response to Darwin's iconic description of the development of the eye, Schenk drew on novel biomimetic techniques and paint-technology to create artworks inspired by the astonishingly realistic eyespots adorning the wings of the rare moth Erebus obscura.
Mirroring the process of evolution, latest colour-shifting nano-particles and innovative reproduction techniques were employed to create successively 'modified' variations of the 'same' moth painting. Simultaneously magnifying, yet focusing in on, the subject, each additional repeated version evolves from the previous template - but inevitably change and mutation leads to the formation of new, modified patterns, shapes and hues.
To capture the ephemeral quality of the colour, the artist drew on her unique expertise of utilising cutting-edge iridescent 'pigments'. Thus, depending on the light and viewing angle, an apparently dull brown moth transforms itself into a glittering beauty - before our very eyes.
In short, the complex interrelationships between the evolution of colour, camouflage, display and perception are artistically explored.
The project's immediacy to biology is evident in both animal coloration/display and in the evolutionary development of the eye. Colour adaptation, eye development and perception are inextricably linked. Butterfly eyespots benefit the insect by tricking the eye of (and so warding off) predators. Since Darwin first described a sequence of eye development, molecular genetics has shed much light on the actual genes and biochemical pathways involved. Extensive work on the development of eyespots is currently being undertaken in the emerging field of evolutionary developmental biology (Evo-Devo). Also, crucially due to its profound implications well beyond biology, evolutionary theory can provide a link between art and science - one the artist is exploring.
A smaller detail duplicated.
The resulting series of interrelated paintings formed the centerpiece for exhibitions and public engagement activities throughout the Year of Darwin (2009). In the run up to the main event (a solo-show/ public lecture to mark the 150's anniversary of Darwin's publication of 'The Origin') selected works were shown at Glasgow Science Centre and the Central Library, Birmingham. In addition, various public lectures and conference presentations were delivered in Birmingham, London, France and Spain.
Right: A pattern created from a multiplied detail of 'the original'.
Below: A range of patterns is achieved by re-arranging a multiplied detail of 'the original'.
In the Eye of the Beholder: Exhibitions
In the Eye of the Beholder. Solo exhibition in conjunction with Darwin 200 - a national programme of activities to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. School of Art, Birmingham, Nov.
From Sea to Air. Solo exhibition as part of Birmingham Artsfest, Central Library, Birmingham, Sept.
The Evolution of Evolution. Group exhibition. Glasgow Science Centre, June.
In the Eye of the Beholder: Talks
- 27 Nov 09
- Franziska Schenk in Discussion with Prof. Frederic Fol Leymarie. Thursday Club, Goldsmiths University of London. info
- 24 Nov 09
- In the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Evolution. School of Art, Birmingham City University. info
- 13 Feb 09
- In the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Evolution. Darwin Day, University of Birmingham. info
- 13 July 09
- Bio-inspired ‘Pigments’ and their Conversion to the Painter’s Palette. Conference: Bio-inspired Photonic Structures, San Sebastian, Spain. info
- 31 Mar 09
- Biophotonics: An Inspiration for Fine Art Painting. SciArtColloquium: Biophotonics – Bioinspiration, Fondation des Treilles, France. info
Featured Talk: In the Eye of the Beholder - 24 Nov 09