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Appliance of science: Cells and the city


Daksha's work will be shown at Manchester Piccadilly’s Metrolink platform until the end of December. Credit: Joel Fildes

Artist and PhD researcher Daksha Patel has used Wellcome Images to create a series of maps of Manchester, linking environmental data to the inside of the human body.

“Our bodies are permeable: the city enters our bodies through our skin, our lungs and our ears. I wanted to question this idea of fixed borders, of enclosing spaces – which is central to map making – by merging the boundaries of the body and the city,” says Daksha Patel, an artist and PhD researcher at Northumbria University.

Her works for the ‘Diffusion’ project look at the ways in which people construct cities and are in turn affected by the cities they inhabit.

Commissioned to produce a new series of drawings for the lightboxes at Manchester Piccadilly station, Patel turned to Wellcome Images for inspiration. “I used this collection as a starting-point for the series of drawings, in which I map environmental data upon structures of the internal body.”

Following a period of research at the Human Geography department at Manchester Metropolitan university, she worked with Geographical Information Systems to map data about Manchester’s growth, air quality and noise levels onto biological structures.

The drawings were commissioned by the Hamilton Project and are being shown at Manchester Piccadilly’s Metrolink platform, until 30 December 2011. The project was supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and is an associate event for this year’s Shisha-initiated Asia Triennial Manchester (ATM11).

'Diffusion 1.4' by Daksha Patel
Lung tissue

Diffusion 1.4: Lung tissue (directly above, by Spike Walker) and Manchester orbital motorways (uppermost image).

'Diffusion 1.1' by Daksha Patel
Alveolar spaces in the lungs

Diffusion 1.1: Alveolar spaces in the lungs (directly above, by David Gregory and Debbie Marshall) as a contour map of Manchester (uppermost image, in red) with a choropleth map (green) showing 3+ car ownership per household in Greater Manchester.

'Diffusion 1.2' by Daksha Patel
Mast cell

Diffusion 1.2: A mast cell with histamine granules (directly above, from the University of Edinburgh) as a dot map showing sites of air pollution emissions in Greater Manchester (uppermost image).

This feature also appears in issue 69 of ‘Wellcome News’

Filed under: Science Art, Wellcome Images, Wellcome Trust Publications Tagged: Art, artists, biomedical images, body, daksha patel, Data visualisation, Environment, inspiration, joel fildes, manchester, Manchester Picadilly, mash-up, Northumbria University, PhD, pollution, Sciart, Wellcome Images

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