Blue Morph: An exploration of the nanoscale through the metamorphosis of a caterpillar

Blue Morph is an interactive installation in our upcoming MAGICAL MATERIALS exhibition that uses nanoscale images and sounds derived from the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.


A collaboration between media artist Victoria Vesna and nanoscientist Jame Gimzewki, Blue Morph takes its name from the Blue Morpho butterfly, whose blue colour is not a result of pigmentation, but actually patterns and structures on a nanoscale. The extremely fine lamellated scale covering the Morpho's wings reflect incident light repeatedly at successive layers, leading to interference effects that depend on both the wavelength and the angle of observance. The interference of light due to multiple reflection within the highly uniform structural arrangement of the scale gives the butterfly its fantastic colour. The lamellate structure of their wing scales has been studied as a model in the development of fabrics, dye-free paints, and anti-counterfeit technology. 

[Click here for more images of the Dublin opening of Blue Morph]

While the optics are fascinating, another surprise lies in the discovery of the way cellular change takes place in a butterfly. The sounds of metamorphosis are not gradual or pleasant, as we might imagine them. Rather, the cellular transformation happens in sudden surges that are punctuated with moments of stillness. There are eight pumps or "hearts" that remain constant throughout the changes, beating a rhythm in the background. 


Blue Morph is a fusion of sound, light, and interactive art and science that provides an interactive experience in which visitors to our MAGICAL MATERIALS exhibition will be able to experience for themselves the power and beauty of nanotechnology, and the magic of continuous change.

Our new show MAGICAL MATERIALS launches with a members-only preview party at 6pm on September 14th at Science Gallery. If you would like to join us for a first glimpse at this collection of the world's most peculiar and spectacular materials, become a Science Gallery member today and your name will automatically be added to the guestlist.