Visualizing the Invisible: Exploring the Border between Science and Culture


Presentation Title:

  • Visualizing the Invisible: Exploring the Border between Science and Culture



  • This presentation will showcase a recent science visualization project produced by The Labyrinth Project’a research initiative on interactive narrative at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts’ in collaboration with pioneering molecular biologist Jean Chen Shih. “A Tale of Two Genes: Exploring the Biology and Culture of Aggression and Anxiety” is an interactive project that explores the borders between nature and culture, innovation and ethics by presenting Dr. Shih’s thirty years of pioneering research on a crucial pair of brain enzymes, known as MAO A and MAO B (monoamine oxidase) that help control aggression and anxiety in mice and men. Her work has provided the first tangible evidence for a biological basis of aggressive behavior. Besides visualizing the latest advances in molecular biology and genetic research, this multimedia presentation also engages ethical questions in science (including stem cell research and cloning, the use of laboratory animals, and unequal access to medicine). Using original animations documenting the exciting discoveries of Dr. Shih and by presenting interviews with scientists explaining how they became interested in biology, this project also encourages youngsters to choose science as a career. Using this project as a model for interactive science education, the National Chengchi University has collaborated on a Mandarin edition to be distributed in Taiwan.

    Founded in 1997, the Labyrinth Project works at the pressure point between theory and practice, producing a form of digital scholarship that combines cultural history and artistic practice. Their works have been featured at museums, festivals, and conferences worldwide and have won several prizes, including a British Academy Award and the Jury Award for New Forms at the Sundance Film Festival. All of their works are interdisciplinary collaborations with artists, scholars and cultural institutions. “A Tale of Two Genes” is their first collaboration with a scientist.