Erica Seccombe, Virtual Life, 2014, Solvent print on aluminium composite board, 1220 mm x 2400 mm. Winner inaugural Paramor Prize for Art + Innovation, 2015 Casula Powerhouse Art Centre Liverpool NSW.

Erica Seccombe, Virtual Life being printed at the ANU Inkjet Print Facility, School of Art, Photo Stuart Hay.


Winner Paramor Prize 2015


Erica Seccombe

Solvent print on aluminium composite board, 1220 mm x 2400 mm, 2014.


School of Art, Inkjet Research Facility, ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences
Department of Applied Mathematics,
Research School of Physics & Engineering
ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences
VizLab, ANU Supercomputer Facility, National Computational Infrastructure, NCI

VIRTUAL LIFE is work that has resulted from my use of the frontier science of 3D Microcomputed X-ray Tomography (3D Micro-CT), in the XCT Laboratory at the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics. I have been experimenting with capturing the dynamic phenomena germinating seeds as they transform from embryo to first leaf. This work shows a moment captured in the stages where mung beans and alfalfa seeds started to grow roots and leaves. As an artist I am using this science innovatively but also looking at the aesthetic potential for this virtual data to be experienced through different mediums such as inkjet printing.  

I have printed this work onto a highly mirrored surface so as to best represent the beautiful translucency of X-ray in combination with the three-dimensional qualities of ‘virtual’ data. Although this is a two-dimensional representation of my work, the reflective material creates an optical experience to make it look as if the image is floating in space like a hologram. Not only does the work reflect the surrounding environment, observers will catch their own reflections in the image in a moment of self-reflection.

Volumetric data acquired from 3D and 4D Micro-CT is not visualised with conventional mesh framing as used in computer generated imaging CGI. Instead this is true virtual data which can only be rendered in specialised volumetric exploration software to accurately represent the original organic material down to a resolution of two microns. I have visualised this data in a custom-designed software Drishti (meaning insight in Sanskrit) which has been developed by Dr Limaye at VisLab in the ANU Supercomputer Facility, NCI (National Computational Infrastructure).

In my work I am exploring how science and art can both engage us with the natural world through processes of rational observation and subjective experience. VIRTUAL LIFE reflects a techno-scientific culture where our relationship to nature and experience of the natural world is increasingly mediated through technology. Our own reflections in the surface of this work position us in the present but our ability to cultivate plants also represents our survival and the continuity of human culture. In this work I am looking to create an experience of wonder, such as the experience of looking down a microscope, so that an audience may contemplate the ordinary phenomena of a plants germinating from a different perspective, to perhaps consider idea of life in our own time and the future of life on this planet.