A MOVEMENT AWAY FROM SUPERFICIALITY
Probing the vulnerabilities of the existential human condition
Dr. Obdulio Piloto explores themes of identity, particularly what it means to be human in an exponentially technological period of human existence.
Dr. Piloto: For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the power of abstract art to bypass programmed scenic imageries and evoke strong emotions through amorphous markings. I am intrigued by how some artists can so skillfully explore similar topics from vastly different perspectives and create an understanding beyond what is physical and real. It is communication at the highest form.
The core of my art involves the capture of a person’s essence at a moment in time. Capturing one’s likeness is not a new concept (think of the countless royal portraits in Western civilization). However, a painting or a photograph poorly approximates the highly complex molecular mixture that is a living, biological being. Instead, my art utilizes ‘molecular portraits’; molecular constructs of individuals using a technology I co-invented with Ian Cheong, called NuTec, which utilizes nanotechnology, material science, molecular medicine, and artificial intelligence. A key scientific application of this technology is detecting diseases early, particularly cancers.
If the disease can be diagnosed early, without exaggeration, it can determine life or death for many who don’t experience any symptoms.
These Molecular Portraits are a series of 70 data-rich spots that are used to communicate biological information to artificial intelligence systems. As such, they remove the cultural, socio-economic, racial, sexual and religious baggage we automatically associate with traditional images of people and form the basis for my artworks.
This expressionistic style offers a unique perspective of interrogating diverse and complex topics.
The use of molecular portraits in artworks is simply one manifestation of this mode of art. I further exemplify this theme in the use of paint I developed containing encrypted DNA from my genome to sign each piece. Literally, viewers are provided with the most basic molecular essence of my physical self, my molecular DNA.
I hope my artworks convey a sense of hope through technological advances and a movement away from superficiality that’s pervasive in modern society.
How Molecular Portraits are Made
A bio-fluid (e.g., blood) is collected from myself or a donor for processing.
A NuTec slide is incubated with the biofluid sample to allow molecules to bind onto the NuTec slide.
The NuTec slide is then heat treated. This transforms the transparent NuTec spots into colored spots that reflect the millions – billions of bound molecules.
The resulting, color-rich NuTec slide is scanned, resulting in an image of the molecular portrait.
The scanned molecular portrait is used as the basis for the artwork.
Artworks can represent literal molecular portraits (e.g., digital scan + digital composition) or figurative representations of ones (e.g., 70 painted spots on canvas).