SciArt Magazine - All Issues - Page 10

(detail) Villin Headpiece Folding detail (2011). Longest object length 11’. Steel, aircraft. bringing facets of nature gained through science into the cultural mainstream. In a way, I feel my job is to counter our natural tendency of reductionism and help to reconnect the dots. My own way of approaching things tends to be reductionist as well and it is again some sort of a learning process I feel the urge to share in my work. The human (and by extension the human figure) has always been at the center of my interest, when I was painting as well as later in sculpture. And it was a great source of frustration when I was in physics that it felt so removed from the human being. When I make my protein-based pieces, the human figure is almost always part of it, sometimes more, sometimes less hidden. To give you an example, my sculpture based on the protein Microcin J25 (called “Nanos”) used to be displayed horizontally (and was called differently) but I ended up putting it vertically because that structure has a loop at one end which resembles a head in that orientation. It is interesting to me to keep exploring different approaches because I feel that they feed off each other 10 in constructive ways. It reminds me of the German painter Gerhard Richter, who has been painting abstract and realistic simultaneously for pretty much his whole career. In fact, the two big commissions I’m working on right now are examples of each approach; one consists of two human figures in a dialogue, whereas the other one is based on the structure of the collagen molecule — the most abundant protein in the human body. Q: How did you come to work in steel as your main material? A: I have always had a strong affinity for steel. But the main reason is that I need a material that can do structurally extreme things, while being suitable for the outdoors. Because steel is very strong and easily available, it can be easily manipulated with available industrial tools, and is a wonderful medium. Most of the time I use stainless steel. The drawback is that it feels quite cold. Patinas are not really an option. For that reason I’m incorporating more and more colored glass in my works. SciArt in America August 2013