Scales of resistance is a piece of practice-based research by Daniel Alexander, working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Nottingham. The 7.51 minute film was scripted and directed by Alexander, and created in collaboration with the 3D imaging studio ScanLab Projects. It was exhibited at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in July 2019.
Scientists developing bacteria resistant surfaces to combat antibiotic resistance were producing image data recording the behaviour of bacteria. This data would normally be presented to the public as 3D false colour illustrations. The scientists reported that this made the data seem less real to their audiences, and carried associations of cartoons, creating barriers to engagement.
Alexander comes from a photographic practice and wanted to research the possibility of operative images produced by ‘seeing machines’ such as microscopes, LIDAR scanners, Satellites etc to tell stories.
This project investigated and developed methodologies for visually communicating scientific information to the public, without resorting to illustrative imagery, and researched the possibilities of re-purposing operative images for narrative means.
A two-year process of bid development identified the key scientific information to be communicated, and established a methodology of using architectural visualisation software to locate images captured at micro and macro scales in accurate spatial relationship to one another.
In grant public engagement funding from EPSRC and Wellcome Trust grants enabled the production of the film, which was created over a four-month period, involving close collaboration between the researcher, the scientists and the film production studio.
The film utilises the concept of the zoom to move a viewer through environments they are familiar with, into the human body then up to space. The use of original operative images maintains an indexical relationship to the environments depicted - a significant development from the usual reliance on illustration to communicate scientific concepts.