April 15, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Following on from the great feedback we received for using reader artwork in our last issue, Other Worlds, our Picture’s Editor, Natasha Gertler, reached out to our readers again for their artistic input for our Spring 2017 issue, Taboo.

Below, in order of magazine appearance, we look at each piece more closely, accompanied by a short description by the artists of their inspirations and creative processes.

We would like to thank all of our contributors for these wonderful pieces.

If you would like to be involved in contributing artwork for the next issue, please contact Natasha at natasha.gertler16@imperial.ac.uk.

I,Science Magazine Taboo Cover

FRONT COVER by Andreea-Otilia Suiu 

It took me a while to come up with an idea. I started by writing down some taboo topics, but found it very difficult to think of ways to cleverly illustrate them – they’re taboo, after all. I realised that it would be better to approach the image conceptually, so I settled on the idea that taboo is something that people refrain from talking about. This was where the zipper covering the mouth came into play as the central element of the image. I was back home that week and had to use myself as a model as there was no one else available to help out. I also had to improvise a bit with the lighting, because I did not travel with all my gear, but I managed to make it work. I decided to cut the eyes out of the photograph to make it more relatable and universally applicable. Compositionally, I aimed to focus on shape and create strong lines with the placement of the hands and arrangement of the top. I also included a smaller second element of taboo, the little key pendant on my necklace. However, I thought of it as a further conceptual detail that doesn’t distract from the deliberately vibrant zipper.

black glass poo

POOPING IN POVERTY by Rachel Crowdy 

I made this piece in my Monday evening pottery class. I wanted to cover the recognisable structure with a shiny black glaze to give it the look of obsidian and add an air of luxury – creating a subtle juxtaposition with the content of the piece.

chalk of hand holding


This is a pencil drawing of a photograph. I chose this image because I wanted it to relate quite ambiguously to the subject matter of the article, and I liked the high contrast between the shadows and highlights, which I felt made the image more impactful.

painting of zombie


The piece I was illustrating was about reanimating the dead. I took the concept quite literally so created a watercolour painting of a zombie. I didn’t want to go for all-out gore, so instead of rotten and hanging flesh, he has skeletal features and a distinct green tinge. I also gave him a confused expression to make him seem a little more human than the stereotypical depiction of a brainless zombie.

sketch of braindrawing of virus sherlock

drawing of two fetusesdrawing of half man half ape

drawing of fat boy and skinny boy


For each of the five pieces of unethical research, I wanted to represent the essence of the research without being too literal, or in a more playful way – as the experiments described are rather dark! I decided to create them in watercolour as often that is a softer medium which can often look a little transparent, and I hoped that this might reflect that this research will (hopefully) only ever be fantasy.

physics notes with blood splatters on them


It was very interesting, but also difficult, to read about the unethical experiments which have been performed in the past. I wanted to illustrate some of science’s shadowy and deadly history, but felt that depicting the experiments would be inappropriate. Therefore, I chose to create a drawing which is supposed to look like an old paper or lab book splattered with blood, in a way that is reminiscent of the archetypal ‘murder’ images.

digital painting of bust of man in case

bust of albert einstein and person with hammer

DEFYING DARWIN and EINSTEIN TEST by Karolina Jankiewicz

The idea for this digital painting came from a reflection about how Darwin and Einstein are both unquestionable authorities, some considering them to be untouchable like objects you would see in a museum. We can admire them, but any interaction or scrutiny of their theories is frowned upon, framing those who attempt it as criminals of sort. While they no doubt deserve the glory and the nice lighting shining on their statues for what they have done for their respective fields, maybe keeping them behind glass is not entirely in the spirit of science.

photograph of flower arrangement


In this piece, clitoria flowers, tampons and PMS have been deceptively combined and neatly arranged in a vase.

sculpture of person diving and DNA


The sculpture depicts the creation of the perfect human being through genetic modification. Contrasting colours further exemplify the cultural and personal differences of desirable traits. The face was left white, symbolizing the abstract and subjective concept of beauty, which is unique to the beholder. Geometry and shape of the sculpture was designed using CAD. The sculpture was then cut out of MDF using a laser cutter machine and painted on with acrylics.

photos of people's bodies


The ‘Anonymous Torsos’ piece was inspired by my work as a medical photographer: I routinely photograph patients’ bodies to document diseases and medical interventions. I am often probed to consider whether this subject matter is taboo. Whilst nude photographs often sexualise the body, using the medical style in this series encourages us to look at the nude objectively. Lining up 21 images of naked torsos also serves to desensitise the viewer to nudity. The ‘typical’ body seen in the media is not a realistic representation; human bodies exist in a diversity of shapes and sizes. By photographing a more representative range of bodies I wanted to challenge society’s norms about the body and celebrate the unique qualities of each one.

foggy photo of tower bridge


This photograph was taken just after sunrise just outside City Hall. I live quite far from central London so I woke up super early to take some photos before lectures. This winter, the fog had been particularly bad, we had several days where flights had been cancelled or severely delayed and driving conditions were awful.

sketches of weapons

MAKING A KILLING by Lizzie Riach

Lethal (2017) collage of pen on tracing paper mounted on a background of red and black acrylic paint. For this piece I focused on the detail on the weapons themselves, which have been honed over time by humans for maximum utility. Whilst they have a graphic art quality, the background is much more primal, with the red paint signifying the damage they can inflict on the living.

pencil drawing of woman crying


This is a pencil drawing of a photograph. As the article is about the medicalisation of women’s issues, particularly relating to their emotions and mental health, I wanted to depict a woman showing emotion, but in quite an understated way (hence the single tear).

people intertwined and creating DNA


This illustration was created with black pens, a thick tip for the outlines and thin one for finer detail. The two women are embracing in a non-explicit intimate pose, they are intertwined and they are the gene of the DNA. I wanted to create an image which portrayed the gay gene as beautiful and with no appearance of negativity, nor something somebody could view as such.

painting of baby

painting of things

LINES IN THE SAND by Karine Gray

First I read the topic of the article and felt totally overwhelmed by the importance of the subject. That, instinctively, inspired me to try and create some art with all my heart and the multiple colours of the mysterious universe and cells in the body. I then looked through many science books which dealt with embryos and cells, and decided to try and express the beauty and magic of science, the body and also the birth of a baby and how scientists are crucial for the future of illness cures, but also keeping in mind that you cannot escape the mystery of birth, life and death.

man walking past massage sign

black and white photo of womanblack and white photo of woman

black and white photo of building

black and white photo of building

black and white photo of a man

black and white photo of a woman squatting

THE STIGMA OF SEX WORK by Sue White (upcoming online article)

On my stake-out of London’s misnomered and seedy centre, Soho; I place myself surreptitiously behind the lens. It may be just a matter of streets that make up this part of town, but truthfully it is the domination of a certain industry, wedged between the innocuous prime real-estate of homogenised fluorescent Design Offices peering down, dwelling in the darker dives forming London’s lascivious undercurrent that define the pervasive air of these streets. Standing still in this part of town, so at odds with the usual mad dash between London’s pin-points, you start to key in on all the flippantly passed indicators of a job that is no doubt silently sobbed through. A dingy doorway, weeping with salacious stains, backdrop to a notice scrawled in marker pen, the cruel untruth, ‘MODELS’, loosely mimics the angle of the stair’s incline. Reprobates camouflaged by Tourists, Hairdressers, Tattoo Artists & City Slickers colliding in speedy intersection, dashing for Pret A Manger grabs in their lunch hour: the consensus: pause for thought impossible against the clock. That is, until the anthropology of the man who calls himself client of this postcode slowly reveals himself. An aged man, white of beard, beige in garb and dragged down by re-used 5p plastic bags – in another context perhaps a retired ex-polytechnic Academic, but here today in Soho he replaces food and bookshelves with a cursory browsing of the ‘treatments’ & ‘services’ of the Thai Massage Parlour window. A perverse pretence – a sort of mating call is performed, a dance between himself and the window, a feign of coincidental interest, a denial of intent ~ all before he enters the establishment.

This photo series looks to at once expose the nuances and banality of depravity in our city – whilst veiling the individuals by blurring their faces with a longer exposure & thus capturing an apt distortion of the very moment these men choose to engage with this world.