By Jordan Chen, Biochemical Engineering ‘24
What are viruses? Miniscule packages of protein and genetic material, smaller than all but the smallest cells, relatively simple structures on the boundaries of what we consider living. Undetectable to the human eye, these invisible contagions are rarely on the minds of the average person, occupying a semantic space in public consciousness more often than they are understood for their material reality. Stories are more likely to be described as “viral” than an actual virus, yet when the COVID-19 pandemic washed over the world at the end of 2019, the public suddenly had to confront that which was seemingly abiotic, simple, and small. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic exceeded that unassuming material reality. With the shuttering of the global economy, mass death, political crisis, confusion, hysteria, and science without immediate answers, it’s become clear that the sum of COVID-19’s viral components is much more than the whole.
To emphasize this idea in the piece, coronavirus virions are depicted as massive and detailed larger than earth bodies, in a vital bloody red, surrounding and overwhelming the relatively simply shaded globe. What was formerly small, simple, and nonliving, can now be dramatically understood as larger than life, having created complex predicaments, and having taken on a life of its own in its assault against the world. This digital artwork was created in Blender.