by Joanna Bloese
I was invited to collaborate in creating an art-science fusion for the 2021 ALEPH Art-Science Film Festival in Mexico – and I thoroughly enjoyed this experience!
The theme of this interdisciplinary film festival was “Medicine and Its Borders” and our film, Through the Looking Pill, begins as a Zoom conversation between patient, medical doctor, academic PhD and narrator. The patient is describing her symptoms and both doctors recommend a pill that is “art.”
But from there, the film takes on a very ‘Alice in Wonderland, through the looking glass’ feel. The audience follows the journey of the art pill through the patient’s body. It explores different ideas about the interaction and negotiations of medicine with our cells, using metaphors and parallel images of the outside world to describe parts of the human body. The film is completely in Spanish and the narrator’s tone is that of a soccer commentator, giving the film a relaxed and comical feel! It ends with the patient having gained a new relationship with and vision of her body (hopefully, the viewer feels this, too).
My role in development and pre-production involved concept development, creating storyboards and overall aesthetics of the film. I also contributed to the narrative structure and dialogue. My collaborators included actress Fernanda Vizzuet, and Ana-Karen Barajas, Ilana Boltvinik and Rodrigo Viña from University Veracruzana in Mexico as the actors and narrators.
This experience was very different for me. This was the first fictional film I’ve ever worked on. It was hard to develop without being able to meet in person due to the pandemic. We had to creatively problem solve and tailor the design of our film to compensate.
As a scientist with a PhD in entomology, it was refreshing for this opportunity to combine art and science. These two seemingly different disciplines share a common ground in that both require creativity and curiosity. This project allowed for a space where artists and scientists could come together and share their unique perspectives and insights. I found that learning how my peers utilized the scientific and creative methods led to enhanced learning. It has led to examining my current perspectives and assumptions, which have bled over into my scientific research program. I believe such experiences help us to keep an open mind when presented with new information. I would jump at the opportunity for other art-science collaborations.