John Hyatt is a Professor of Contemporary Art in the School of Art and Design, Director of ART LABS (Artistic Research and Technologies) and Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies at Liverpool John Moores University.

He is a painter, digital artist, video artist, photographer, designer, musician, printmaker, author and sculptor and has exhibited his work in many countries across the world.

John has a long and varied involvement in cultural practices, pedagogy, industry, urban regeneration and communities, and we were delighted to appoint him as Sensor City’s Artist-in-Residence early last year. In the lead up to the official Sensor City launch event in November 2017, we approached John again with regards to creating a bespoke installation combining his interest in the arts and science.


Sensors help us to inquire further than our natural senses allow and they give us, what Hyatt has coined, Super-Sensory Perception (SSP). Hyatt founded an open transdisciplinary research unit, Biology Art Technology (BAT) LAB, at Sensor City to research and apply SSP across art and science.

Professor Hyatt experimented with how sand and liquids move under different frequencies to investigate waveforms, flow, resonance and beauty.

When teaching in Oman for the British Council, one of John’s students gave him a bottle of sand from her local beach to use in his work. John had saved this special gift for a special moment.

The Sensor City launch event was this moment. Working with Sensor City engineers, John used a powerful, sensor-equipped microscope camera to concentrate SSP on just one tiny grain of this sand. The grain used was the first chosen from a countless number. As though selected by Destiny’s hand, this single grain proved very rich, beautiful and interesting.

John called this piece of sand, Mothergrain

Launch exhibition

The microscopic images discovered an impressed, regular, hexagonal flower pattern on the Mothergrain: a fossil of extremely tiny coral creatures that lived together, one at the centre of each floret, millions of years ago, on an ancient sea bed.

These patterns were captured and edited into a series of 3 videos to be shown at the Sensor City launch event.

John also made the score for his central Mothergrain video piece, by digitally translating an image of vibrating water into a musical composition for a string quartet:

This installation was seen by over 70 delegates attending the official launch of Sensor City on 8th November 2017, including Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Professor Nigel Weatherill DL, Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, Dame Professor Janet Beer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, and Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

The Future

Mothergrain has become an icon of SSP at BAT LAB representing ecological interconnectedness, at scales both cosmic and tiny, of our living environment. So much so, John has used Mothergrain’s form as inspiration for BAT LAB’s logo design.

John is currently preparing for a month-long series of multimedia events in Liverpool’s Fabric District in May, where he is working to help develop the area and has written an Art Strategy to guide how culture can assist regeneration.

Hyatt is also working with Try & Lily Ltd. exploring the development of wearable sensor technology. 

He is preparing a new book, Rock Art, and is also curating a painting exhibition with videos for the Walker Art Gallery in Spring 2019, based around artists in the John Moores Painting Prize, called Talking Coloured Mud.

For more information about John Hyatt and his work, please visit the following links:

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