The fourth edition of CNIO Arte already has protagonists. The project of National Center for Cancer Research (CNIO) that mixes art and science has been presented this morning at the headquarters of the center in Madrid. On this occasion, the artist Daniel Canogar has unveiled his work Flares, a sculpture formed with a dozen LED screens that imitate the books in a library, and which he has cataloged as a challenge and an opportunity. Canogar has acknowledged having been inspired by the computer work that researcher Sarah Teichmann carries out at the Sanger Institute, in Cambridge (UK). The work can be seen at the International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO) that will take place in Madrid between July 7 and 11.
Teichmann leads the so-called Atlas of Human Cells, one of the most ambitious projects of the 21st century in the field of biology, which aims to map the hundreds of trillion cells that make up the human body. Although maps of this type have been made at the brain and genomic level, this is the first that aims to be made of the entire human anatomy. More than 300 laboratories from all over the world participate in this project. This led the author to reflect on the ways of storing information and how digital had overtaken analog.
As he became interested in Dr. Teichmann’s work, cell tissues reminded him of the structure of an LED screen. In this way, Canogar glued twelve screens of this type to a wall, perpendicularly, separated by different distances from each other and that, due to their shape, imitate the volumes on a library shelf. For the author, it was in these places where knowledge was concentrated until not long ago (as in an atlas), although digitization has changed everything: “Now everything is in the cloud. The information is excessive and it cannot be contained in a book, because it will also be instantly out of date and obsolete ”, Canogar explains.
The name of the work has a double meaning. Beyond a flash of light, a flare is a medical technique used to treat cysts or tumor cells
He then designed an algorithm that is responsible for displaying the different animations that pass from one screen to another through cables connected at the bottom. These connections, in addition to the technical function (they feed the screens), also had an aesthetic and metaphorical function. “We live in the age of ebooks. Books are screens that are interconnected and plugged into that great neural system that we call the internet ”, says the artist. The animations change continuously and never repeat themselves, something similar to what happens in a human body. “It has a life of its own,” says the author about the work.
The name of the part, Flares, it also has a double meaning. Beyond a flash of light, a flare is a medical technique used to treat cysts or tumor cells, a reality that is well known at the CNIO.
This initiative aims to connect the world of art with that of science through two of its exponents. In previous editions of CNIO Arte, they starred Eva Lootz and Margarita Salas in 2018; Chema Madoz and Ignacio Cirac the following year; and Carmen Calvo and Juan Luis Arsuaga in 2020. This year’s presentation was attended by the filmmaker and visual artist Amparo Garrido, as curator of CNIO Arte, and Álvaro Ganado, from the Banco Santander Foundation, which supports the initiative.
María Blasco, director of the CNIO, considers that art and science are two complementary ways of describing a reality: “Both science and art are essential to understand reality, and both can inspire each other”. Scientists and artists share “the spirit of rupture with established knowledge, and of searching for the unknown; the deeply human desire to decipher the meaning and harmony of everything that surrounds us ”, according to the director.
The work will be exhibited at the CNIO headquarters until the inauguration of ARCO 2021, the International Contemporary Art Fair of Madrid, which this year will be held from July 7 to 11. So much Flares Like the rest of the works in the CNIO Arte collection, they will be moved to the position that the center will have in ARCO. It will be the first time that a scientific institution is present at this art fair. The profits obtained from the sale of the sculpture and the rest of the works in the collection will be dedicated to hiring research talent and promoting cancer research projects through the CNIO Friends philanthropic platform.