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Diagram of Forces

Event date: 
Thursday, 28 September, 2017 - 10:00 to Thursday, 1 March, 2018 - 18:00
Event location: 
School of Life Sciences

Celebrating the centenary of D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form, the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, presents an outside exhibition with works by artist Andy Lomas inspired by their shared view on the “perfection of mathematical beauty”. Lomas’ works are the result of an exploration of natural processes of growth; these generative forms relate closely to the research carried out at the School of Life Sciences.

This exhibition reveals how the simulated structures resonate with today’s research in biology, physics and chemistry. These “spheres of action” visualise growth, much like the active particles that can be seen in the renders by Dr Rastko Sknepnek. In this project, Sknepnek was asked to comment on what the forms of Lomas’ works might convey. Thoughts from Sknepnek and D’Arcy Thompson are combined to show the interaction between forces in science as well in as art.

“Growth in confinement, that is the general theme. So these could be creases in the brain - there is actually quite a lot of discussion about how they form. An idea would be, in order to maximise the amount of brain matter one can fit into the skull it is necessary for the brain to crease and form so-called sulci.” (Rastko Sknepnek, 2017)



Andy Lomas is a digital artist and mathematician. His art work explores how complex sculptural forms can be created emergently by simulating growth processes. Inspired by the work of Alan Turing, D'Arcy Thompson and Ernst Haeckel, his practice exists at the boundary between art and science. He has exhibited work in over 50 joint and solo exhibitions, including at the Royal Society, SIGGRAPH, Japan Media Arts Festival, Ars Electronica Festival, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Watermans and the ZKM. His work is in the collections at the V&A and the University of Dundee's D'Arcy Thompson Art Fund Collection, and was selected by Saatchi Online to contribute to a special exhibition in the Zoo Art Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts. In 2014 his work Cellular Forms won The Lumen Prize Gold Award. He is a Visiting Lecturer at UCL, The Bartlett School of Architecture and a Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths University of London. Previously Andy worked as an Emmy award winning supervisor of computer generated effects on major film productions.

Computational physicist Rastko Sknepnek, based at Dundee’s School of Life Sciences and School of Science and Engineering, researches physical processes in biological and soft condense matter systems. With a great interest in pattern and shape formation, his research exposes the collective behaviour of active parties; research that can be described as the modelling of crowds. Related to On Growth and Form, Sknepnek investigates the properties and behaviour of active matter.

Curator Susanne Boersma, currently based in Sheffield, put together this exhibition following earlier research and conversations with the artist Andy Lomas during her time at LifeSpace (Summer 2017). She completed her MA Art Museum and Gallery Studies at the University of Leicester in 2017 and has worked on various projects as a curator, teacher and translator since.