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Arts and Nanotechnology

With financial support from The Wellcome Trust, HAPPEN created an opportunity for artist Julie Freeman to develop her practice within the Department of Microsystems and Nanotechnology at Cranfield University. Having secured a prestigious Engaging Science Award from the Wellcome Trust, valued at almost £27,000, over the course of two years, Freeman created a body of work designed to increase public understanding of self-assembly and organizing processes at the nanoscale, and the potential impact of these on biomedical science, as well as stimulating debate about the social consequences.

Freemans main collaborator on site was Professor Jeremy Ramsden, whose group is researching into self-assembled nanotextures to be used for stem cell sorting and the detection of pathogens. She also formed collaborative relationships across campus, particularly with the newly formed Cranfield Health.

Click here to visit Professor Jeremy Ramsdens website.
Click here to visit the project website.

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology within biomedical science is moving forward rapidly, and yet the vast majority of the public is still unaware of its true impacts and implications. How many people know that, on a fairly prosaic level, nanoparticles are already in everyday use, enhancing the functionality of sun creams and sticking plasters? In tandem, rumours abound in the media of much more revolutionary advances, such as tiny machines that zip around ones bloodstream killing viruses, but these are still far from being realised.

It is a top priority to develop a more mature and critical public perspective of this high technology research. The potential of nanotechnology to revolutionise a number of areas of science deserves wider public appreciation. The objective of this residency has been to advance public understanding of nanotechnology applied to nanomedicine through novel creative outputs. The artists fascination with biology and technology has steered her toward nanotechnology, where these worlds seem to collide.

About the project

Now complete, this project has delivered: 16 artworks installed on campus; various scientist and artist collaborations in the laboratory; 4 Arts & Science public lectures; 7 additional talks delivered by the artist including presentations at the Royal College of Art (RCA), University College London (UCL), Imperial College London, The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining IOM3, The Centre for Contemporary Studies at the Indian Institute of Science and the Centre for Internet & Society, the latter in Bangalore. This ground-breaking project has been featured in Materials Today, Time Out Bangalore, BBC Video Nation, BBC Three Counties Radio, RFID Protect as well as local press coverage in Bedfordshire.

May 2009, saw the culmination of Julies residency, which was marked by a major exhibition at Cranfield Health and an accompanying 24 page publication: In Particular ISBN: 978-0-9557652-1-6. In February 2010, this project was shortlisted by Arts and Business East for The Marshall Business Aviation Innovation and Technology Award.

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