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Jon Hopkins' Immunity Soundtracks A Series Of Stunning Microscopic Images [Exclusive Video]

The relationship between music and color is explored in a series of gorgeous visuals created from crystallizing food dye.

by Kevin Holmes
May 10 2013, 11:07am

Small is beautiful. And no where is that phrase more relevant than in the work of artist Linden Gledhill. Trained as a biochemist Gledhill is now a photographer who likes to take photos of the world in close-up. Like, real close-up. In a collaboration with art director Craig Ward he's made a set of gorgeous microscopic visuals (above) set to music from Jon Hopkins' forthcoming album Immunitywhich is due for release June 3/4th on Domino Records. They'll also be a record release show on June 4th at Grasslands Gallery, New York—you can purchase tickets here.

Gledhill's microscope work includes experimenting with liquids and crystals to create abstract images, exposing the delicate beauty of butterflies' wings using a macro lens, and exploring the individualism of snowflakes and their complex and intricate structures. Away from the microscope his high speed photography has seen him bounce paint off speakers and snap the frozen action of insects in flight.  

Gledhill's work station and setup

For the Hopkins collaboration Gledhill created a series of 10,000 images of food dye which is in the process of crystallizing—enhanced by Hopkins' tracks the crystals grow in sequence with the sounds, highlighting the synesthetic relationship between color and music. Working in his basement with a Canon 5D Mark II fitted onto an Olympus BH-2 research microscope, Gledhill captured the microcosmic images at a range of 200 to 1000x magnification.

The USA Mistake, one of Craig Ward's typographic pieces

For Craig Ward, working at a small scale has informed many of his previous projects and typographic work. "Fluid dynamics, inertia, combustion and particle simulations have all inspired and helped to create my often chaotic typographic explorations." Ward says, adding: "For this project however, those tiny interactions make up the bulk of the imagery and the typography takes a back seat."

"Jon's music is organic and flowing, yet with a hard and rhythmic electronic edge." Ward notes. "The idea of delving down to explore chemical interactions under a microscope felt like the perfect solve to create the album imagery and our video for The Creators Project features much of the same—various immiscible liquids, dyes and chemicals interacting underneath the watchful eye of my collaborator on the project, biochemist Linden Gledhill."

Below you can see a breakdown of how Gledhill created the lush and rich visuals for each song.

1. "We Disappear" - Reaction of sodium bicarbonate with acetic acid resulting in carbon dioxide bubbles

2. "Open Eye Signal" - Turbulence and bubbles due to rapid evaporation of solvent from a solution of dissolved salicylic acid

3. "Breathe This Air" - Final crystallization stage for salicylic acid from dilute solution

4. "Collider" - Crystallization of very highly saturated salicylic acid solution

5. "Abandon Window" - Red food colouring crystals suspended in water drifting across the field of view

6. "Form By Firelight" - Turbulent flow of green food colouring dissolved in water mixing with solvent

7. "Sun Harmonics" - Time-lapse, over several hours, of mixed food colourings crystallizing from water

8. "Immunity" - Wetting of a microscope slide with a solution of benzocaine


jon hopkins
macro photography
Craig Ward
Linden Gledhill