Pictures from the Atomic Force Microscope: Temporal Representation in the Moving Image

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Historically, artists and scientists predominantly created moving images of scientific phenomena using optical instrumentation such as cameras and light microscopes that enable direct observation of their subject. However, the perception and representation of nanoscale phenomena, which are too small to be detected by optical systems, rely upon complex technological mediation via layers of instrumentation, hardware and software. This mediation has profound implications for the perception of phenomena that exist outside the range of the human sensory system. This article describes the scientific representations of temporality in the work of Eadweard Muybridge and etienne-Jules Marey and the complications of visualising the nanoscale. I analyse imperceptible phenomena in the contemporary moving image and draw upon my creative practice with the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), using this instrument as a framework for discussing the temporal and sensorial challenges of working with nanoscale phenomena. This creative practice-based research resulted in the creation of several experimental moving image works collected under the title Wildly Oscillating Molecules. Through the adoption of scientific instrumentation and data for creative production, the collection of moving image practices discussed uncover temporal and sensorial assumptions and suggest alternative experiential encounters with scientific phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-798
Number of pages14
JournalConvergence: the international journal of research into new media technologies
Issue number3
Early online date7 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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