Dr Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy

The Midas project is a visual and sonic installation that amplifies certain aspects of experience at the nano level. The project draws analogies to the curse of the fabled Midas, King of Phrygia, to whom Dionysus gave the power of turning all that he touched into gold. The gift of touch soon changed for the king, from a source of pride in his abilities to a curse, as even his food and drink transformed into gold. The Midasproject uses the skin cell as a visual metaphor for exploring the deterritorilization and reterritorialization of the nanobiological body.

lab procedures

The Midas project uses the atomic force Microscope (AFM), invented in 1986. Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr cultured skin cells on substrates at SymbioticA Research Lab which were then scanned by the AFM. The AFM produces images of atoms, constructing a machinic visualisation of the invisible.

scanning of the cell

The recorded data of vibrating atoms is translated into sound files. The final installation comprises a gold coated three-dimensional model of the cell and a live feed digital projection. These are initially presented in the installation with an image of the skin cell. The viewer touches the gold coated model of the cell to play the sounds of the atoms and to initiate the release of semi-autonomous nano assemblers.

nanobot attack

A genetic algorithm is applied to ‘contaminate’ the skin cell image resulting in a landscape where the nanobots eat away at the representation. Through its experiential space, the project reconfigures perceptions of space and scale.

view of tableMidas with finger of viewer

Installation view: gold interface and projected image