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Art of Science image titled K’aizalaj Okox
K’aizalaj Okox

Scientist Collaborators Alex Schrader, JuYeon Lee, Marisa Asadian, Ian Traniello, Gene E. Robinson and Hee-Sun Han Hee-Sun Han Group

Fluorescence Microscope - Zeiss Axiovert 200M with the Apotome

Funded by the J&J Cancer Center, European Research Council, Brain2Bee


Take a deep breath. Relax your eyes and look at the three panels together. What do you see? Maybe a moth or a bat? Imagine all the colors fading to gray. Do you see something different? Does your perception change if you focus on only one of the panels? To many of us, this piece is reminiscent of Rorschach inkblots that were widely used by psychologists to examine their patient’s personality. Although their use in psychology has all but vanished, they still remain intriguing due to their ability to conjure different interpretations.

The original research image was obtained from a map of genes that are expressed in a honeybee brain, with each color representing a different gene. Honeybees are unique in their ability to make individual decisions that align with the collective mindset of the hive. Through this piece, the artist invites you to do the same: take in the image by yourself and then gather some friends and reexamine the piece. After all, art has a long history of social bonding, whether it is to shape our understanding of the world or enhance the sense of belonging to our own communities.