20–30 September 2018

Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?

Immerse yourself in new discoveries around the physics and biology of colour.

This event combines a virtual reality environment with a 3D-printed mini arena. Play the game Neu-TRON spin and get to grips with cutting-edge research.

Expect a fantastic voyage into a world of spinning neutrons and synchrotron radiation – and a unique collision of science and art.

Opening times

Thursday 20 – Thursday 27 September

  • Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
  • Wednesday: 10am – 8pm
  • Sunday: 11am – 4pm

See also: Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? (talk)

About Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?

This is an ambitious art-science collaboration that has resulted in two vibrant and visually arresting responses in virtual reality and painting to new discoveries around the physics and biology of colour. The event explores cutting-edge research into synchrotron and neutron radiation, and bio-mimetic ‘structural colour’ mechanisms and materials.

Neu-TRON spin is a virtual reality environment conceived by artist Paul Evans and created in collaboration with leading Sheffield design studio Human.

It enables participants to immerse themselves in an environment where challenging concepts of scale and physics are made accessible, interactive and awesomely beautiful. Participants enter a virtual reality arena where the Neu-TRON tops interact with magnets and a hugely enlarged sculptural form based on the internal structure of a beetle’s scale. An accompanying screen enables onlookers to view the action while waiting to participate.

There is a mini-arena where 3D Neu-TRON tops can be played within real-world space.

The Rose of Temperaments II is a series of six paintings by Evans in primary and secondary colours, made using traditional pigments and new materials employing structural colour technology. The format, reminiscent of the view through an optical microscope, encourages minute scrutiny.

There is also a performance lecture and talk based on the artist’s response to this research.

About this collaboration

Paul Evans is an artist based in Sheffield. He has a multi-portfolio practice that varies between work created in his studio and socially engaged contexts. He has a particular interest in science-art collaborations and has worked within a number of leading academics, poets and designers. Previous commissions for the Festival of the Mind include Iridescence (2016); a collaboration with Professor Richard Jones and the Department of Physics, Gaze-Shift (2014); a collaboration with Professor Peter Redgrave from the Department of Psychology; and Animal Magic (2012) with Professor Tim Birkhead from the Department of Plant and Animal Sciences.

Richard Jones was educated at Cambridge University, and has a first degree and a PhD in physics. After postdoctoral work at Cornell University, he was appointed as a lecturer at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University. In 1998 he moved to the University of Sheffield, where he is now a Professor of Physics. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is an experimental physicist, whose research centres around the properties of polymer molecules at interfaces and ultrathin polymer films. Between 2007 and 2009 he was the Senior Strategic Advisor for Nanotechnology for the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield from 2009 to 2016.


This exhibit is part of the Futurecade series of events.