Alexis Gambis' science films: fruit flies, surrealism and sex

NYC scientist and filmmaker Alexis Gambis is building a body of science-themed short films. His documentary A Fruit Fly In New York juxtaposes lab equipment with the infrastructure of New York City; between grad students and postdocs relating the (somewhat deadpan) joys of fruit fly research, befuddled New Yorkers puzzle over a vial of Drosophila ("that's something I don't want on my body"). I was surprised and tickled to see that one of my friends, a former fly researcher, makes an appearance. The scientific community is so small!

The clip I enjoyed most, though, is the one I've embedded for your enjoyment below: the peculiar, definitely-not-a-documentary Dr. Funque and His Petri Dish, in which a researcher "falls in love with a microscopic girl in his petri dish." It's a surreal, partially stop-motion animated, silent, black-and-white exploration of the solitude of the lab. I think it's a metaphor for the voyeuristic aspects of research. Or maybe it's about the feeling of spatio-temporal disorientation you get at the end of a long day of looking at things you can't see with your naked eye. Or maybe it's about how tiny the apartments are getting in New York.

Whatever the subtext, it's worth a watch:

I think I may need to watch that again to figure out what just happened.

It doesn't take a trained empiricist long to observe that, like the field of Drosophila research, Gambis' body of work has a sexual theme. In addition to the lovelorn Dr. Funque, Gambis' films includes fly room, "the story of pioneer geneticist, Calvin Bridges, and his passion for both fruit fly science and women," and Courtship, which is about . . . well, just watch the trailer. . .

Yes, I think that may be a hitherto undiscovered Gregor Samsa sex tape. (And you thought science wasn't hawt!)

Director Alexis Gambis, PhD, is the founder of Imagine Science Films, attends New York University's Graduate Film School, and is a faculty member in the Department of Biology at NYU. I think he deserves some sort of award for going pretty much as far as one person can to blend the "two cultures", promote public awareness of science, and facilitate the creation of sciart. (And weird films.) Awesome, Dr. Gambis.

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