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What is Science

Video (musical score by Adrián Berenguer) 

Place of Origin

the Netherlands



Inspiration and composition


The inspiration for De Kanter’s video came from the exhibition’s open call. ‘The themes patterns and exploration were a bit broad for me, but then I thought about the call itself; what is science. It really made me think’. He then began looking around his lab in Berlin for things that might represent ‘everyday science’. Not being a painter or a musician, De Kanter used his phone to capture different videos of mundane scientific objects around the lab, exploring different ways of looking at them from different angles, playing with colour, tools, and documenting how things grow and change. ‘I just walked around the lab looking for things that might be interesting; liquids bubbling, magnifying tiny things, and shaking flasks. Every time I’d go to work, I’d make a video of something’. Over three months, this gradually evolved into a large collection of video clips. After contracting Covid-19, De Kanter used his isolation week as an opportunity to put all the clips together using the editing software Adobe

Premiere Pro. Exploring different ways to display his work, De Kanter chose a panelled effect ‘so the viewer always finds something interesting to look at, and perhaps experiences something different each time they see the video’. The musical score helps tie the piece together. ‘You can hear the pace of the music and the volume of the instruments building as the video progresses towards the final message’. The message De Kanter explains as a eureka moment. To him, ‘none of this would exist without the people’. ‘As children we explore and are curious about the world around us. Scientists have hung on to that curiosity, and this to me is what drives science. Without those curious and creative people there would be no science’. While De Kanter understands not everyone will agree with his conclusion, for him this is what science is.  


The artist

About Tom de Kanter

Tom de Kanter MSc, studied Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences at UMC Utrecht. His final internship abroad at the Berlin Technical Institute focused on fungal biotechnology, and the data from this research will be published in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts. De Kanter has also recently secured a PhD position at the Industrial Microbiology Group at TU Delft to continue his research in this area. While De Kanter has never considered himself an artist, he does think that to be a scientist you must be a creative person, and while science is his true calling, this project has helped him see this field through a more artistic lens and may in the future consider doing more with his newfound artistic talents.  

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