30sec film artists Vol.73 – Elaine Whittaker

“The microbial life captured me in a big way”

Elaine Whittaker is a Canadian artist inspired by an aesthetic in which art and science overlap. Her transdisciplinary works consider biology as contemporary art practice. She examines the forces that make us human, from the foundational processes and materials needed to form an organism (water, heat, minerals), to exploring the microscopic world of cellular ecologies. Recent works have centred on the body as a site of infection, reflecting narratives and elements of anxiety found in popular culture, scientific research, and personal experience.

Elaine Whittaker’s Artwork

Elaine Whittaker – 30sec film artists Q&A

How do you usually get inspired again after working on a big project/painting?

By not thinking about working on another project.

Do you collect things?

Medical and health paraphernalia, salt rocks, organic materials.

What's the last great book you read?

I am currently enjoying Pandemic by Sonia Shah.

How do you come up with ideas?

So many ways. They reach out to me...when I am walking... through a word in a crossword puzzle...the crackle of a crow calling...looking out the window of the train...

Is there a childhood experience that has helped shape the kind of work you do today?

There are many. One was going to talks and films of the Audubon Nature Society at our local library on Friday nights with my mother.

Artist’s bookshelf

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond
Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond

Behind the Scenes – Filmmaker’s Experience

There are not many artists working on their contemporary art practice based on biology and it is so fascinating to see how “the microbial life” attracts Elaine Whittaker’s attention.
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