The Art of Science

In November, Rich Pickings teamed up with Underwire Festival to present an evening of science shorts and discussion. Underwire festival is dedicated to showcasing films made with women in key production roles. This event, which was supported by Wellcome Trust, screened a selection of some of Wellcome’s short film commissions by female practitioners.

What really stood out about the screening was the diversity of work. A nice thing about Wellcome’s commissioning is that many of the films produced are unrecognisable as science shorts. This is very much the intention of Wellcome Trust. Meroë Candy, a Project Manager at the organisation spoke after the screening, explaining that many of the arts and broadcast grants Wellcome award are intended to  pique public interest into a scientific theme by exploring it in an unusual way. This approach is evident in the work.

The first film screened was The Centrefold Project by Ellie Land – a neat, sweet and slightly heartbreakingly frank account of three  womens’ experiences of  labiaplasty surgery. The generally lighthearted animated short managed to smuggle in an illustration of the surgery itself which one audience member found so alarming he actually fainted. This was followed by Ex Memoriam, directed by Josh Appignanesi and produced by Mia Bays. This live action, fiction short is a powerful, understated meditation on dementia which lays roots deep into the audiences’ memory.


Centrefold from Ellie Land on Vimeo.

Some of the work screened at the event was pretty non-narrative, such as Soft Materials, Daria Martin’s observation of artificial intelligence robots learning sentience through physical interactions with the world around them. With a focus on texture and movement, the film is experienced more as a dance than a science eduction tool.

Soft Materials

Soft Materials


Animator Samantha Moore worked extensively with people who experience audio-visual synaesthesia in order to capture the essence of this condition for her documentary An Eyeful of Sound. The result is a lovely, free flight through the senses.

An Eyeful of Sound from Samantha Moore on Vimeo.


My favorite film of the evening was Baboons as Friends by Rachel Mayeri. The artist collaborated with a cogitive scientist to study the sexual and social behaviour of a group of baboons which had been captured on video. She then recreated these in a film noir style and exhibited the videos side by side as a two-screen projection. The social dynamics translate very well to human relations and the result is simultaneously funny, ridiculous, insightful and sad.

Primate Cinema: Baboons as Friends from Rachel Mayeri on Vimeo.


Underwire Festival will be bringing their UK Forum Tour home to London to host an intimate dinner at BAFTA for female cinematographers as part of LSFF on the 7th January 2013. Read all about it here.


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