At first “Flowers” looks like a textured painting, or perhaps a fabric print. But peer in closer, and there emerge the tiny cells that create this image. As artist Vik Muniz writes: “The artwork is a microscopic pattern of liver cells infected with a smallpox vaccine virus. After infection, the virus turns the cells a reddish color which allows scientists to visualise infection.” The image was created in a laboratory using microfabrication techniques and a high-resolution microscope. Vik then digitally colors the images and makes wall-sized prints “that allow viewers to see both the individual cells, and the pattern as a whole.”
“Flowers allows the audience to draw a deeper appreciation for how the Vaccinia (smallpox) vaccine and cells interact, and brings awareness to the importance of the vaccine.”
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz incorporates everyday objects, such as sugar, thread, and garbage into his practice to create bold, ironic and often deceiving imagery, extracted from the pages of pop culture and art history. Muniz’s work has been exhibited worldwide, and his solo show at MAM in Rio de Janeiro was second only to Picasso in attendance records.
Learn more about Vik Muniz.
Photo Credit: Barney Kulok
Watch this video of Vik, as he describes his inspirations, and the creative process to develop artwork out of living materials.