In 2004, artist Luke Jerram began a visually scientific sculpture series entitled Glass Microbiology. With help from both expert virologists and talented glassblowers, Jerram has created a collection of glass sculptures accurately depicting some of the most prevalent viruses out there, including HIV, malaria, and the swine flu (notoriously recognized in the 2009 flu pandemic).
What inspired this project was the constant, inaccurate depictions of viruses in textbooks and media outlets. Since the wavelength for color is larger than the microbes, they do not naturally have a pigment. However, in many renderings they appear as bright or multi-colored entities. The artist felt this presented not only a skewed idea of each infectious agent, but also hindered the learning process if each microbe is different, in terms of artistic representation.
As a result of his efforts, Jerram’s work has now made its way into countless medical texts and is being used in the media as well. They provide not only accurate renderings of their subjects, but also quite fetching formations. Their sculptural forms are stunning, which makes it all the more intriguing to view such elegantly crafted pieces while keeping in mind how dangerous their real-life counterparts are.