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Infectious diseases as art

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  March 1, 2013 09:00 AM

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Infectious diseases are always scary, but they look especially menacing in glass. That's one impression left by the works of sculptor Luke Jerram, who has created a series of disconcertingly beautiful glass representations of some of the world's most notorious viruses. Jerram's initial motivation for the project was practical: He thought it was misleading that viruses are usually depicted in color when in fact they're smaller than a wavelength of light (and therefore, colorless). Images of Jerram's sculptures have been used for educational purposes in leading scientific publications. His work, which is currently on display at the Museum of Art and Design, has also been successful as art and, indeed, nothing would seem to set the tone for certain occasions (divorce proceedings; home foreclosures) quite like a perfectly imagined version of smallpox on the mantle.

Swine Flu
Disease Swine Flu.jpg

T4 Bacteriophage
Disease T4 Complete.jpg

HIV
Disease HIV.jpg

Images courtesy of Luke Jerram

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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