Para-site-seeing: Departure Lounge begins its journey

Para-site-seeing: Departure Lounge is a new science-art exhibition. We’re inviting you to imagine life from the perspective of a parasite in a human-centred world. Funded by the WCAIR, it will land in LifeSpace on May 2.

Take a trip in a parasite’s shoes

Leishmania are deadly parasites that have been constantly travelling for millions of years. During that time, they’ve been catching flights between humans, dogs and other animals using sand flies as their mode of transport. Throughout human history they’ve exploited human conflict and competition to move between continents. Now, finally, humans at WCAIR are fighting back!

In your trip around the show, you’ll experience life down the microscope as Leishmania. Check in for your flight, wait in the lounge and climb on board. Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy (sand) flight!

Scientists and artists working together

Sir Mike Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences, said “this is a very exciting science-art exhibition. We are passionate believers in the value of different disciplines working together. When artists and scientists collaborate, it allows each to look at their work in a new and creative way. Having been a part of the exhibition development, I am delighted to see this work in LifeSpace”.

Artists Rod Dillon and Jen Southern have been working together since 2011. This exhibition is an expansion of their travel blog Para-Site-Seeing. NEoN Festival and WCAIR co-commissioned the original work in late 2018.

Southern has exhibited her work around the world over 25 years. She works as Director of the Mobilities Lab at the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster University. Her work is a hybrid of art practice, research into mobile technologies and speculative software design. Rod Dillon is an artist, entomologist, microbiologist and senior lecturer at Lancaster University. He specialises in Leishmania-sandfly interactions.

The artists said, “we wanted to connect research in Dundee and Lancaster with the histories of how the parasites have spread around the world. We’re also interested in the different ways that parasites move, on a microscopic level and on a global scale. Trying to see from the parasites perspective has certainly helped us to focus on these movements in a new way”

Part of the bigger picture

WCAIR’s mission is to tackle the lack of drug discovery for diseases of the developing world. We aim to be a world-leading hub for drug discovery, training and public engagement. LifeSpace engages artists and scientists in innovative collaborations. As a result of this science-art exhibition, we hope people can think about both fields in a new, fun way.

The gallery is open to the public from 11-5 on Saturdays and by appointment at other times. You can find out more at the LifeSpace website. Finally, Lifespace is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.