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The Art of Death:

Viruses Are Beautiful!

by Dr. Hunter O'Reilly, Ph.D. and Electric Eye Neon

Influenza
Is
Beautiful!

Herpes
Is
Beautiful!

Ebola
Is
Beautiful!

HIV
Is
Beautiful!

Rabies
Is
Beautiful!

You walk in a dimly lit room. You see on the wall illuminated objects of various shapes and colors. Your first impression is that they are beautiful. They look almost like candy or exotic fruit, something you want to eat. You observe them for a few moments. Then you look at the description on the wall. You discover they are all actual images (electron micrographs) of viruses, many deadly. They have been enlarged, colored and illuminated to illustrate their beauty, and to confront you with the paradox of something being visually stunning yet intellectually horrifying. Few people experience the beauty of viruses except scientists. This artwork brings the beauty of viruses to the world.

The Art of Death: Viruses Are Beautiful!
Installation View
digital prints, neon and plexiglass
Hunter O'Reilly, Ph.D. and Electric Eye Neon
2001

Photo Credit: Brian Bednarek

Black and white electron micrographs of ebola, herpes, influenza and rabies were generously provided by Dr. Fred Murphy, a professor in Pathology/Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California-Davis.
Dr. Fred Muphy, University of California-Davis

The black and white electron micrograph of HIV was generously provided by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


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Copyright © 2001 Hunter O'Reilly, Ph.D.