BLOOD AT THE SCIENCE GALLERY

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"Blood Vessels" by Charlie Murphy, made of borosilicate glass filled with red and blue toluene that's used in thermometers.
“Blood Vessels” by Charlie Murphy, made of borosilicate glass filled with red and blue toluene that’s used in thermometers.

As soon as you walk in through the glass door of the Science Gallery, you are greeted by the large sign that says “Blood: Not for the faint-hearted”. It really isn’t.

If you’re prone to getting squeamish at the sight of the tiniest trickle of blood, you might want to miss this one. However, if you’re fascinated by the crimson red liquid that runs through your veins and want to learn more about it, you need to see this exhibition.

25 different installations and artworks in the Science Gallery incorporate the main theme of blood, exploring its nature, its scientific use and its perceptions in our society.

The whole atmosphere in the gallery space is eerie in the evening, with dimmed lights illuminating the intriguing installations: a baby sculpture made out of freeze-dried animal blood; a vampire killing kit with four different sizes of wooden stakes; various one-man cinema quarters with videos of stem-cell extractions and blood transfusions; a machine that lets you feel the blood pressure through the aorta by holding the aortic arch simulator; and many more.

If you have some time to kill, you can even stand in the pitch dark corner to watch as luminol drops down onto a sculpture made of blood and resin, slowly revealing the structure made by Beatrice Haines. Luminol is the substance that’s used in TV criminal dramas like CSI, where the cops are looking for evidence of blood residue in crime scenes.

You see, blood on its own doesn’t really show up under fluorescent light. First, forensic scientists would pour luminol over the area and then illuminate it with the bluish-green light. When luminol comes into contact with the haemoglobin in the blood, it glows under the light.

This is one of the more fascinating installations, however it does take time to truly see the structure in its full form. Apparently, it’s approximately 20 minutes, though it does take a lot of patience to stand still in pitch dark while concentrating on one spot.

Another interesting installation is the work of an electronic artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. It’s called “Pulse Index”, and it is an interactive installation where you can scan your finger on a sensor located in a small tube-shaped digital reader. The scanned image instantly pops up on the screen and keeps moving sideways.

All of the participants’ fingerprint scans are accumulated into a digital gallery and displayed onto a huge monitor, divided into hundreds of smaller screens – each person’s finger scan travels along the screens and gets smaller and smaller until it reaches the end of the installation. Finally, the picture completely disappears into the maize of finger scans. The scanner is so precise that it even picks up the tiniest sweat droplets off your finger.

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“Blood Jukebox” is yet another interactive installation that catches people’s attention. There was even a queue to this intriguing device. This machine, made by the art collective, Robot Versus Future, reads your pulse and tries to estimate your age, generating tracks from your teenage years.

Additionally, it reads the tempo of your pulse and picks a song that matches the beat – the faster your pulse, the more upbeat song the machine generates.

The exhibition at the Science Gallery runs until 25 January and is open to the general public, though it is recommended for over 15s due to its gory and bloody nature. (No sign prohibiting vampires from entering, though. Mind you, that would get quite messy, what with the free buffet of blood installations and curious mortals lurking in the dark corners of the Science Gallery.)

Photography by Aida Skirmantaite.

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