Human Cell Atlas: ArtSci Salon II


The Human Cell Atlas: ArtSci Salon series of conversations and provocations aim to explore ways to improve the value and trust people place in pioneering scientific research by fostering opportunities to develop new ways of thinking, new modes of seeing and new contexts for doing between artists, scientists and diverse communities across the UK and beyond.

Wednesday 2 Dec, 4 – 5.30pm

Hosted by Esther Teichmann @ RCA

The Human Cell Atlas and Technologies of Seeing


ArtSci Salon II welcomed the creative team behind a newly commissioned artist film that explores the Human Cell Atlas. Since the Renaissance, artists and scientists have mapped our bodies in all of its knowable and unknowable complexity, the process of categorizing, classifying and naming fragments undertaken to understand the elusive whole. The Human Cell Atlas aims to create an open-access atlas of knowledge, mapping how all body systems are connected, impacting almost every aspect of biology and medicine in the future. 

Christopher Stewart and Esther Teichmann’s artist film explores themes of language, the invisible, the unknown, and imagination in relation to the Human Cell Atlas, looking at the interconnected histories of technologies of seeing, scientific discovery and our relationship to our own bodies. 

Participants included:

Boris Jardine:  A History of the Scientific Atlas

Boris Jardine’s research deals with the history of the instruments and material culture of science. His current research project ‘The Lost Museums of Cambridge Science, 1865–1936’ tells the story of the ‘New Museums Site’ in the centre of Cambridge, focusing on the way in which collections were amassed and then dispersed in the various museums that once occupied the site. Jardine is also completing a book project with the working title The Plans for Utopia: Modernism and the Sciences in Interwar Britain. This is the culmination of his PhD research into the social survey movement Mass-Observation, and the links between socialist scientists and artists in the 1930s. Jardine was previously Curator of History of Science at the Science Museum (London), and Munby Fellow in Bibliography at the Cambridge University Library (2014/15).

Christopher Stewart: The Apparatus of Looking

Christopher Stewart’s practice explores themes of surveillance, the invisible, secrecy and power. Stewart’s work has been exhibited widely including at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich, The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford, Open Eye in Liverpool and Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland, with work held in public and private collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Martin Z. Margulies collection, Miami. Writing and curatorial research projects are also central to Christopher’s practice. He completed an MA at the Royal College of Art and a PhD in the Faculty of Art & Design at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Esther Teichmann: Feeling the Invisible

Esther Teichmann’s practice looks at the relationships between the maternal, loss, desire and the imaginary, working across still and moving image installation. Recent solo museum shows include Heavy the Sea, Transformer Station, Cleveland and Mondschwimmen, Reiss-Engelhorn Museum, Mannheim. Collaborations include Phantasie Fotostudio II with Monster Chetwynd at John Hansard Gallery, and the co-curation and editing of the exhibition and book, Staging Disorder, with artist Christopher Stewart. Teichmann received an MA (2005) and PhD (2011) in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art (RCA) and is Head of Programme of the Master of Research, and Coordinator for Critical and Historical Studies at the RCA.

Sarah Teichmann: Human Cell Atlas 

Sarah Teichmann is co-founder and principal leader of the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) international consortium. The International Human Cell Atlas initiative aims to create comprehensive reference maps of all human cells to further understand health and disease. Sarah Teichmann is interested in global principles of protein interactions and gene expression. In particular, her research now focuses on genomics and immunity. From 2016, Sarah has been the Head of Cellular Genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Sarah is an EMBO member and fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and her work has been recognized by a number of prizes, including the Lister Prize, Biochemical Society Colworth Medal, Royal Society Crick Lecture and EMBO Gold Medal.

About this series: Human Cell Atlas: ArtSci Salons is an online space that aims to bring artists together with scientists working on the Human Cell Atlas initiative through critical dialogue, cross-disciplinary exchange, networking and collaboration. Through a curated series of flexible and experimental online discussions and public conversations, we will welcome our ArtSci community, partners, collaborators, colleagues, friends and anyone else who would like to join us to share their thoughts and help shape a post-pandemic future in which scientists, artists and wider society can thrive.