Sean Capone

Molecular Clock, installation view, 2020; site-specific projection for Night Lights Denver

Capone: Vanitas


For over a decade, I have been creating computer-generated floral animations which are projected as immersive installations or displayed on architectural flatscreens. This work began with the realization that video was going to increasingly be an architectural concern—that digital moving imagery was now spatially immersive and embedded in the built environment—and thus required a different kind of non-narrative visual/temporal language. This led me to research the history of pattern, wallpaper, ornamental art, and architectural art, which led me inevitably to the art of the Italian Baroque and Rococo periods. I was interested in the florid excess of this latter work, and how it was used to express mythic and spiritual narratives. As an animator, I find this work also had a sensual exuberance, dynamism, and trompe-l’oeil illusionism which I sought to translate to the moving-image medium. As a gay artist, I am interested in the metamorphic/transformative potential of using video projection to ‘glam up' a space with a kind of efflorescing Baroque decadence.


What you see here are images from a recent series called Molecular Clock. It was originally created as a site-specific public projection mural for Night Lights Denver, in conjunction with the Supernova Digital Arts Festival there. (I also made an expanded single-channel version, Molecular Clock II, with a soundtrack, which premiered at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin as part of a public-facing exhibition, and will be shown at the Tokyo Photographic Museum as part of an upcoming festival curated by the Center For Visual Music.)


Molecular Clock is a vanitas for the age of quarrel between the Anthropocene and the Microbiocene. It is a generative digital animation depicting fanciful microbiological flora and virus-like organisms churning in a cyclical swirl of phantasmagoric fission. The work was partly inspired by the scientific media imagery that emerged in the early days of the Covid crisis and is intended to reference the symbolic imagery of the vanitas—a reminder of the cyclical transience of life, which blossoms briefly and is inevitably dissolved back into nature. 


Above and below: 

Stills from Molecular Clock II, 2020, HD digital animation, audio; single-channel looping animation

Sean Capone