A close look at the structure of the human body reveals a complex lattice-work in which proteins are the basic building unit. The varied forms and combinations of proteins provide support for a wide variety of harmonious, life-enabling functions. This basic principle determines not only the physical structure of proteins in humans, but the structure of Nature itself.

 

In order to correctly approach the functions and interactions of the elements in a biological system, whether it is healthy or sick, it helps to picture in our minds the simplified forms of said elements. Thus, we imagine the interaction between a molecule and a specific enzyme as two puzzle pieces fitting together,

like a key fits in a lock.

 

During my six years of training as a doctor I sketched in my notes hundreds of triangles, pentagons, spearheads, edges, and hollows. These photographs put them all to shame. I could never have conceived that boring metformin actually looked like someone was

throwing a party in a landscape of bright-colored spirals. How would then the specific receptor for this compound look? The images taken by Antonio Romero shatter all mental images I have ever used to outline reality. Their beautiful and riveting complexity opens gates to unknown spaces, where an antibiotic can look like a wheat field or an antidepressant may appear like a delicate flower.

 

Yet there is something more surprising than the impossible shapes, the color combinations, and the unfamiliar textures that dwell in our body (or that we ingest and inject). Perhaps more amazing is that these images are a reflection of light in a suddenly unrecognizable reality. In displaying the hidden fabric of our constituent elements, these photographs pose a threat to our common sense and preconceived notions. In a time in which scientists deservedly rejoice at the sheer volume of our accumulated knowledge, the intricate landscapes captured by the artist take us back to what science really means: getting to know the reality we live in. 

We can only wonder, in contemplating these complex structures, how they interact with others to perform their functions.

 

Humanity has come a long way in the knowledge of sickness and health, and how to sustain and restore the latter. These photographs invite us to think how much further we will go, and how much improvement we might make in this and many other areas. Only by approaching the complexities of reality from a novel perspective will we reach a different set of solutions to our problems. With these images Antonio Romero issues a call to be our better selves as a species, so that we can face the many unresolved challenges of improving quality of life all over the world, a dream that we have nursed since the dawn of our history.

 

 

Carlos Máiquez Romero, M.D.