A microscopic painting co-created in real time over great distances.

The Microscope Sessions is by Rhiannon Armstrong and Tim Spooner.

We are on a Skype call together: our cameras are microscopes and they are focussed on paper instead of ourselves.

We border each other.

We co-create a painting in real-time.

We attend to the demands of our microscopic materials.

Tune in as the painting emerges through an evolving game of consequences, cross-pollination, and contamination.

“an extraordinary meditation on connection, conversation, and staying together in a world of Zoom calls and remote work”
Robin Kwong, Newsroom Innovation Chief, Wall Street Journal.

“digital bodies and boundaries might be blurred, but this work refutes any bland Covid- era appeal to an idealised notion of touch and togetherness”
Paul Paschal, dramaturg, researcher and artist.


The Microscope Sessions was a project that developed between us early in lockdown. Following the cancellation of some work we were due to start together in the spring, we decided to meet once a week on skype instead, to explore ideas and as a way just to stay connected. Our shared interest in detail, intimacy and the material qualities of things led us to experiment with re-finding these sensations, in a new reality when that often seemed impossible. An online performance emerged from our experiments.

Over 40 minutes, on a video-call, we collaboratively make a watercolour painting under microscope cameras from our homes. One camera-feed overlays the other, so that when paint crosses out of one painter’s region, it requires the other painter to continue it, attempting to cancel the space between us.

What the painting is and the way it emerges is led by neither one of us.

The work is a complex set of responses and counter-responses to each others’ boundaries, intentions and mistakes, and the will of the materials.

Audiences see and hear this composite painting being made in extreme closeup and intimate detail. They also see us as we work, looking hard and trying hard.

Trailer made from early documentation:

The Microscope Sessions has been shown online through:

  • Forest Fringe TV, July 2020
  • Unlimited Festival, Southbank Centre, January 2021
  • The Place, Spring Weekender, February 2021
  • The National Gallery, March 2021

and was part of the LIFT Concept Touring research and residency programme in summer 2021, exploring sustainable touring options for a live version of the piece.

Tim sits at a table, illuminated by lights built into its surface. He is payign close attention to his microscopic painting. Behind him the painting is projected onto a screen. The room is otherwise dark.
testing the stage setup at Artsadmin as part of the LIFT Concept Touring residency