Location & dates EMBL Heidelberg, Germany 12 - 15 May 2014
Deadlines Registration closed Abstract submission closed

‘Parasite’ - an audio-visual installation by Deborah Robinson

Open to the public from 12 - 15 May 2014 at Heidelberg Castle. Admission is free to delegates upon presentation of their conference pass. Please check posters for opening times.

'Parasite' is Deborah Robinson's most recent audio-visual work in a series of art, science and technology collaborations.

The European Virtual Institute of Malaria Research (EVIMalaR) is delighted to sponsor this unique audio visual exhibition with a focus on malaria as part of its commitment towards public engagement. www.evimalar.org

Ideas for the work were formed during a residency spent with researchers Dr Julian Rayner and Dr Oliver Billker and their teams in the Malaria Programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, near Cambridge. The work was developed in collaboration with artist David Strang.

The installation evokes a visceral closeness to malaria - a disease that can seem remote to European audiences. Across multiple screens fragments of archival film loop continuously, at a liminal level recalling a partially forgotten history of malaria control that is stored within cultural memory. Specially created software that is powered by historical data obtained from malaria patients corrode each film segment, reflecting the patterns of the fever cycle to recovery or death.

The footage featured derives from previous malaria 'eradication' campaigns in Europe and America that took place in the early/mid 20th century. The use of this unique footage (sourced from the Wellcome Collection) brings UK/European audiences closer to the complex history of an ancient disease where boundaries have shifted and approaches to control have changed over time.

A soundtrack composed by Strang resonates within the dark installation space and is composed using recordings of mosquitoes. This enhances a fleeting state of personal anxiety that we as humans share when at risk of being bitten by a potentially infected insect.

The work, which is generated through a complex set of interactions between art, science, and historical fragments, elicits awareness of the cyclical, recursive elements of this ancient and devastating disease: on a small scale parasites undergo cyclical rounds of development within human blood cells, whilst on a large scale the global community is constantly fighting to keep up with the waves of parasites that have developed resistance to common antimalarial drugs.

Deborah Robinson is Associate Professor (Reader) in Contemporary Art, Plymouth, and co-ordinator of the ARC research group.

Parasite is funded by Arts Council England.

Additional support was provided by Plymouth University (research leave) and the award of a 'Bright Ideas' Fellowship with the ESRC UK Genomics Forum, Edinburgh.

Parasite was first shown at the Ruskin gallery, Cambridge, (2013).

It was selected for inclusion in the Shanghai International Science and Art exhibition where it won an award (2013).

Presentations about the work include: the Evaporation of Things symposium, Edinburgh, 2012; St John's College, Cambridge (as part of the Cambridge Festival of Science) 2012; Edinburgh University, (hosted by ASCUS) 2012, A Home For Science Conference, Norway, (2013).

Please visit the follwoing page for more about the artist and her work