Viral art

My mind wanders, hopping from one coronavirus news to the next. Tired after being inundated by viral news of the Covid-19, I redirect my mind to something else entirely. I google “virus art”, not expecting to find artists inspired by these microorganisms.

But it turns out, there are!

1. David Goodsell

David Goodsell is a scientist who turns viruses into beautiful watercolor art. Deadly viruses such as HIV, Ebola and Zika are depicted eerily accurate. Personally I think the art is perhaps an acknowledgement that beautiful things can kill, an interesting thought to process. Goodsell’s art is not just merely something he does on the side, but is deeply interconnected to his own research of pathogens. His work is said to be “an amazing combination of science and art”.

2. Guo O Dong

Although creating art unrelated to actual microorganisms, his work into infecting a 10-year-old laptop with 6 of the worse computer viruses is an interesting and original take. Who would expect an infected laptop to be worth millions? Titled “The Persistence of Chaos“, Guo O Dong was commissioned by a cybersecurity company to create a computer which is contaminated with infamous viruses such as WannaCry, which left hospitals in England unable to operate their equipment and ILOVEYOU, a virus that inflicted international disruption. Various engineers were brought in to install the viruses into the computer, which is isolated in a housing unit in New York to prevent the virus from spreading to other computers. Sure sounds like quarantine… Besides that, the computer sold for $1.45 million.

3. Laura Splan

Her project of creating computerized lace doilies based on virus structures is done to demonstrate the dangerousness of viruses portrayed through a harmless domestic object. Designs of the doilies are based on HIV, SARS, Influenza, Herpes and Hepadna. This project is also revolves around the notion that an heirloom artifact can manifest cultural anxieties of disease. This project seems rather relevant to our current anxiety around the COVID-19.


These three different virus-inspired art demonstrate indeed how viral art can be…

(Image sources: Science Mag, Popular Mechanics, Laura Splan) 


senior studying economics + psychology. occasional writer, ambivert, and can be found in coffee shops

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1 Comment on "Viral art"

3 years 10 months ago

thanks for sharing