Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Wildly Oscillating Molecules of Unanticipated Momentum: Nanoscientific imaging, technological mediation and the moving image.
Andrea Rassell
2nd Author
3rd Author
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Number of Pages
RMIT University
Thesis Supervisor
Jonathan Duckworth
Supervisor e-mail
jonathan.duckworth AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Adrian Danks, Sharath Sriram
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Media and communications
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Spanish
URL where full thesis can be found
Nano art
Abstract: 200-500 words
Arts practices that engage with submolecular scales encounter issues of temporality, materiality and perceptibility. Consequently, these creative practices interrogate the instrumental processes that mediate our experience of the imperceptible, at times creating hybrid ArtScience techniques and processes. Nanoscience and nanotechnology influence artists practicing across sculpture, installation, painting, animation and media arts. My nanoart / moving image practice explores the innate discrepancy between nanoscientific visualizations, made using instrumentation like the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), and optical photographic or videographic images. The human sensory experience of submolecular phenomena is only possible through complex technological mediations that include not just magnification, but also translations from one sense to another, and the temporal scaling of phenomenal vibrations. The experience of technological mediation, necessary to make nanoscale phenomena perceptible to the human senses, impacts upon approaches to creative practice. What become apparent are the limits of, and opportunities for, creative agency in making multisensory experiences of nanoscale phenomena. In the project Wildly Oscillating Molecules, I adopt the AFM as a cinematographic instrument, developing strategies for creating video using its tactile mechanisms. Using the AFM to generate moving image installations, I reinterpret the systemic translation of data from tactile to visual, instead mapping tactile data to audio and audio-tactile experiences. The resulting exhibition, Wildly Oscillating Molecules, gives insight into how the AFM influences human spatial and temporal perception of nanoscale phenomena, and signals the importance of the arts in developing a human understanding of submolecular scales. My research contributes to the processes of making scientific moving image artworks, and provides new applications and aesthetics of scientific data. It also offers new perspectives for science artists on representing imperceptible phenomena, and also a set of techniques for making moving images with the AFM.