Rafael Araujo’s Butterflies and Helices

It is so good to see artists really begin to properly engage with the DNA double helix and put their own spin on it. It wasn’t the case a couple of years ago when I first started this blog. Then, I couldn’t find interesting images of the double helix that didn’t pertain to a more corporate medical take on it.

But these images from the Venezuelan artist Rafael Araujo are absolutely beautiful and make even more of an impact when I consider this quotation from the Colossal page that features his art:

In the midst of our daily binge of emailing, Tweeting, Facebooking, app downloading and photoshopping it’s almost hard to imagine how anything was done without the help of a computer. For Venezuelan artist Rafael Araujo, it’s a time he relishes. At a technology-free drafting table he deftly renders the motion and subtle mathematical brilliance of nature with a pencil, ruler and protractor. Araujo creates complex fields of three dimensional space where butterflies take flight and the logarithmic spirals of shells swirl into existence. He calls the series of work Calculation, and many of his drawings seem to channel the look and feel of illustrations found in Da Vinci’s sketchbooks. In an age when 3D programs can render a digital version of something like this in just minutes, it makes you appreciate Araujo’s remarkable skill.

There’s more to be found on the artist’s website.

Double Helix Calculus
Double Helix Calculus
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The Fibonacci Sequence
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Slim Cone Double Helix
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Double Helix
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Morpho Double Helix
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Vortex
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Double Helix as Land Art

There are many images out there that represent the DNA double helix as a twisting tree. It’s not surprising given the concept of the tree of life/family tree and all that but it  verges on the cliche. I know, I’ve searched high and low for images of the double helix that aren’t the clinical science/medical driven kind (usually some variation on the colour blue) or a play on the image of a tree. In fact, architecture is so much better at depicting the double helix in innovative and interesting ways than the fine arts can muster. I hope all that is changing though as more people get to understand more about the nature of DNA and more artists incorporate a contemplation of it into their practices.

This tree/double helix combo is, however, lovely, different, holistic and fun. I can’t find the provenance of it but on Flickr it has the attributes “Gabriele Meneguzzi, Landart Contest, Switzerland 2000.”

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