ESS Artistic Residency: Ashley Middleton / Dr. Swati Aggarwal

ESS Artistic Residency: Ashley Middleton / Dr. Swati Aggarwal

Nanocosmic interactions are in full swing as part of the artistic residence at ESS Spallation Source where we are hosting seven artists who are exchanging ideas with ESS scientists & engineers.

Our first highlighted artist in conversation is Ashley Middleton. She is an independent curator and visual artist, working in a range of media that includes photography, sculpture and installation. Her projects are an expression of her ongoing research into the unconscious; its manifestation in human behaviour, and how those behaviours produce, and alter, our physical and digital worlds.

“My practice contemplates the notion of the self as a microcosm of the cosmos and the evolution of social connectivity in the age of rapid technological advancement. My work uses philosophy, science and empirical research to address the value of the body and its symbiotic relation to nature,” says Ashley. 

Ashley is collaborating with former ESS PhD student Dr. Swati Aggarwal, a structural biologist with a specialisation in sample preparation for neutron crystallography. 

Swati explains: “To put it simply, we use various instruments at ESS’s Deuteration & Macromolecular Crystallisation (DEMAX) lab to extract proteins from bacteria, animals or even plants in the form of a solution. We then convert this solution into the form of beautiful crystals (just like snow or salt crystals).”

“Since protein molecules are way too small to be observed by a microscope, scientists use X-rays or neutrons to obtain diffraction patterns, which are then processed by various softwares. Using this data, we can extract information to design a drug against these proteins or understand basic biological functioning of the human body or plants.”

The residency is part of the collaborative project Wisdome Innovation, funded by the European Regional Development Fund among others.

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