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Oculus Building staff profiles: Mary Courtney

Mary Courtney

Name: Mary Courtney
Job Title: Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence
Department: Chemistry

Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

My role is to find and see the beauty and strangeness in the rarely seen microscopic world of chemistry. To collect and create Chemistry as Art. And bring the rarely seen images of the microcosmic world, the world beyond ordinary sight, out of the department to the public. This involves much collaboration with Professor Patrick Unwin and other chemists in the department.

How have you been involved in the Oculus Building project?

Myself and Ian Mason have been working closely together to create eye-catching content for the big screen in the new teaching and learning building. Our goal has been to showcase the chemistry images and video clips generated by research in a way that is both visually appealing and thought provoking. Something like a gallery of the future, where science is art. I’ve provided Ian with the images and he has creatively cropped and presented them in rotating portraits of four.

What do you like best about the building?

I like the big digital screen and the curvy roof. These suggest to me thinking that can accommodate the future, wiggles, as well as straight lines.

What challenges have you faced in your work on the building?

Making sure the images we use are of the highest possible resolution to make the best of the mega high definition screen.

Now that it’s open, what’s the next thing you’re working on?

We are working on completing two short (10ish minute) films. A chem-art film called: “Planet Biscuit:Into the Micronosphere”, and the animation-film “A Being Objective”, both due out late autumn. This last film, funded by the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) stars the animation character “Anna Lytic”, and aims to question how objective we can really be in research.