Cancer cells as an art form? "Colonies," the new bio art collaboration between artist Vik Muniz and MIT synthetic biologist Tal Danino, features striking images produced from microscopic photos of bacteria, cells infected with viruses, and cancer cells.

The Colonies series is a collaboration with artist Vik Muniz. The series began when I met Vik and we started thinking about how you could make interesting art out of bacteria and cancer cells.  Vik is well-known for creating art out of unusual materials, with one of his projects documented in the academy-award nominated film Waste Land.  For our collaboration, we developed techniques to 'paint' really small images out of living, biological materials like bacteria and cells. What came out is a unique blend of science, technology, and art that explores the intersection of current research directions and personal experiences as a scientist. 

The Colonies series was recently profiled by The Creators Project, with the video and article here.  The Colonies series has been shown at the Armory Show (NYC), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Tel Aviv, Israel), Nara Roesler Gallery (Sao Paulo, Brazil), and Nichido Contemporary Art (Tokyo, Japan). A zoomable image of Liver Cell Pattern 1 is available on Artsy. For more coverage on Colonies and art-science projects at MIT see the video below from the MIT Visiting Artists Program and as well as an article by MIT Art, Science and Technology.  The series was also featured as part of the Art of Saving a Life campaign from the Gates Foundation and featured in the New York Times, New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

From left to right:  Liver Cell Pattern 1, HeLa Pattern 1, Flowers Vaccinia, Stem Cells (iPS) Motherboard, iPS Cells Pattern 3, Dengue Pattern 12, Art of Saving a Life Flowers Vaccinia, Liver Cell Crowd, Gallery Images 1-3, Self-portrait of Tal, Self-portrait of Vik, Vik and Tal at Nara Roesler gallery.