Loading...

Follow Art the Science Blog | Non-Profit Science Art Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Fostering interdisciplinary collaborations is a key part of growing SciArt culture. While there are organizations that support artist-scientist partnerships, they cannot do it alone. Building the infrastructure for cross-disciplinary synergy needs to also take place within our educational institutions. As you can imagine, this is no easy task. But, that’s not stopping the Montreal SciArt non-profit, Convergence – Perceptions of Neuroscience, from taking on the challenge.

In an effort to promote a bi-directional channel for sharing knowledge, and to make neuroscience research accessible to a general audience, Cristian Zaelzer (Founder & President/Scientific Director) and Bettina Forget (Vice-President/Fine Arts Director) co-created a unique SciArt and science communication course at Concordia University for Fine Arts and Neuroscience graduate students. With a combined expertise in neuroscience, art, education, and science communication, this powerful teaching duo provides students with an opportunity to push the boundaries of art and science, while learning new skills to communicate science.

Students take field trips to art galleries to expand their art knowledge
(Photo by Cristian Zaelzer) Students also get an opportunity to visit different labs (Photo by Alex Tran) In class, students try their hand at zine-making to communicate science
(Photo by Cristian Zaelzer)

For two semesters, art and science students collaborate on a final art piece inspired by neuroscience research, which is then showcased at the end the term. This year, the artworks were featured at the Visual Voice Gallery and at the Black Box (Concordia University) during the month of April. For those who were not lucky enough to be Montreal, here is a look at what some of the students created this year:

MS & the invisible by Elena Lin and Maria Mathioudakis captures both the immune cell morphology of multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as the pain that individuals with the condition endure.

MS & the invisible (Photo by Flavio Brun) MS & the invisible (Photo by Cristian Zaelzer)

Salience by Yuting Zhang and Ryan Bruggeman is an interactive art piece using brain sensing headbands, projections, and artificial intelligence to explore how the representation of the same environment changes as it is experienced by different individuals. 

Salience (Photo by Cristian Zaelzer) Salience (Photo by Ryan Bruggeman)

Urban DNA by Laura Rosero and Deirdre Hatton transforms gene mutations of branching-patterns of neurons to an urban landscape created by the daily journeys of volunteers. 

Urban DNA (Photo by Cat Lau) Urban DNA – Tumbleweed gene mutation (Photo by Cat Lau)

Synapsense by Raina Fan, Maya Moussalli, Alice Perichon and Erin McKenzie Wall is a collaborative educational game that illustrates the brain’s process of learning through tangible sensory experiences. 

Synapsense (Photo by Flavio Brun) Synapsense (Photo by Cat Lau)

The Cookie Theft: Case Studies by Rochelle Panganiban and Marielle McCrum uses invented responses to test images (used in clinical testing) to show how different types of communication disorders can manifest following a neurological event, such as a stroke.

The Cookie Theft: Case Studies (Photo by Cat Lau) The Cookie Theft: Case Studies (Photo by Cristian Zaelzer)

Starlight Gone by Elizabeth Parent and Liam O’Leary is a metal wire artwork incorporating LED lights, music, and proximity sensors to represent the structure and interaction of astrocytes (a type of brain cell) in depression.

Starlight Gone (Photo by Cristian Zaelzer) Starlight Gone (Photo by Cat Lau)

Find the rest of the science inspired artworks along with more information about the students in this year’s exhibition catalog!

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“In an instant: a moment of time defined as infinitesimal,” reads a plaque by a wide wall of Polaroid photographs, “So short that it becomes difficult to measure, and more difficult to experience.”

I’m at Science World—an interactive science centre in Vancouver, BC—for the first time in years. It feels strange (and a little thrilling) to visit the centre as an adult. But although I can feel my inner 6 year old itching to explore Science World’s new mirror maze exhibition, I’m not there to play with science. I’m there to check out its latest SciArt show, Project Instant V6.0: An Instant Instant.

On view at Science World throughout April 2019, An Instant Instant is a collaboration with Beau Photo, hosted through Capture Festival.

In the Woods by Glenn Bennison, Fujifilm Instax Mini Film – Lomo Automat Camera
Angel in the Grass by John Walker, Integral Film – Polaroid One Camera

The exhibition explores the science behind instant photography through an eclectic mix of techniques—and an even more eclectic mix of artists. The images on the wall in front of me feature instant film of all kinds, from Fujifilm Instax to large-format Polaroid. Each presents a unique interpretation of what “instant” really means. How long is an instant? What does it capture? How does it feel?

Linx Skull #1 (left) and #2 (right) by Anthony DeLorenzo, Polaroid Type 55 – 4×4 Camera
Arrival by Deanna Fogstrom, Integral Film – Polaroid 600 Camera
The Cat’s Pajamas by Deanna Fogstrom, Integral Film – Polaroid 600 Camera (Emulsion Lift)

“Science and art are both are a means of investigation,” Science World’s website explains. “Both involve ideas, theories, and hypotheses that are tested in places where mind and hand come together.”

In An Instant Instant, viewers can see this connection first-hand. Employing their own methodologies, each photographer presents a creative “investigation” of the world around us. They question our preconceptions of time and place, past and present, and deepen our understanding of the moments we experience every day.

Nostalgic and surprising, many of the photographs in the collection stopped me in my tracks—at least, for a long and beautiful instant.

Mornings with Eloise by Jen Echols, Integral Film – Polaroid 600 Camera (Emulsion Lift)
East Van Patina by Jen Echols, Integral Film – Polaroid 600 Camera (Emulsion Lift)

An Instant Instant is on view at Science World by TELUS World of Science until May 6, 2019.

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Angela McQuillan‘s career has taken her to some interesting places. She’s worked in a cancer research lab, attended art school, displayed her work in an international airport, and gone fishing for pond scum in neighbourhoods across Philadelphia. But no matter where her creative practice takes her, the sciartist and curator is clear on one thing: science and art belong together.

“Artists can explore and contextualize the boundaries being pushed in science,” she explains, “and better translate and communicate these advances to broader audiences.”

In all of her work, McQuillan truly puts these words into practice. In this interview, she tells us more about her multi-faceted art making process, and why it’s high time for scientists and artists to work together.

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

That is a tough question to answer. I have been interested in making art for as long as I can remember. I have always loved drawing and painting I would spend a lot of time doing this as a kid. My parents were both research scientists when I was growing up, and quite frequently I would go into the lab with them on weekends. I have fond memories of sitting at the lab bench watching my mom pipette her samples while making drawings with highlighter pens on discarded graph paper. I would say that both disciplines have always been an integral part of my life.

When I first went to college I did not major in art because I was afraid that there weren’t enough job opportunities. I went to school for Biology instead at the University of Texas at Austin. My first professional job was in science, I worked as manager of a cancer research lab and later moved on to pharmaceuticals. I realized over time that I had a serious passion for making art, that there was some kind of inherent need within myself to create that I just couldn’t ignore, so I decided to go back to school to pursue a career in the arts. For a while I was working in a science lab during the day and spending the evenings in the studio while I worked on a BFA in Painting and Drawing. At the time I was interested in the relationship between art and science, but wasn’t able to fully explore the connection until later, when I started working as the Curator of the Esther Klein Gallery in Philadelphia. I also run a BioArt Residency program at the University City Science Center.

Angela McQuillan adds some finishing touches to one of her colourful crocheted works.
A chair gets a vibrant new life in McQuillan’s creative practice.

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

My art and curatorial practices are both most related to the biological sciences. In my personal work, I am attracted to processes that happen on a microscopic level. During my time spent working in the lab, I did a lot of work using fluorescent microscopy, and I feel that this type of imagery has highly influenced my work to this day. My work focuses on the forms and patterns that are found in nature, and I use this as a starting point to invent my own weird and speculative organisms that resemble images of cells and anatomic structures. In my curatorial practice, I am very interested in showcasing artists working with biology, particularly those who are working with living organisms as an art medium. Some of these exhibitions have featured live bacteria growing in petri dishes, DNA extracted from gallery visitors and visualized on a gel, protocells under a microscope, and the world’s first lab grown tooth. I think that biotechnology is advancing so quickly that it is really important for artists to interpret these developments in order to create a dialogue around what our collective future holds.

Internal Parts by Angela McQuillan
Lifeblood by Angela McQuillan

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

I like to switch around and I have a hard time committing to one medium. I have always loved painting and it’s what I studied in school, but in the past few years I have been really interested in fiber art and textiles. It seems like there are many artists who draw a connection between fiber art and biology, there is something about the organic quality of textiles that translates easily to forms found in the natural world. My work is very textural, I love juxtaposing materials like velvet, silk and ceramic to create modular pieces that combine to form a larger complex whole, much like a body, a cell or an ecosystem.

I also make digital artwork. For a while I was creating digital collages of microscopic organisms found in local ponds and rivers in Philadelphia, which were highly influenced by Victorian microscope slides from the 1800s. I am currently learning 3D modelling, which is the new direction I am heading in for my future work.

Angela McQuinn creates digital collages from microscopic organisms found in local ponds and rivers.

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

I currently have a show up at the Philadelphia International Airport called Chimera. The title references the biological definition of chimera: “an organism or tissue that contains at least two different sets of DNA.” The dictionary, on the other hand, defines chimera as “something to achieve, a fantasy, a dream, and a figment of the imagination.” Chimera is a collection of sculptural objects that resemble cells, human organs, and living vessels. They are fantastical hybrids of my imagination and represent biodiversity, the importance of an ecosystem, and a respect and curiosity for worlds that have yet to be discovered. It is a large installation created by crocheted yarn, sewn soft sculpture mixed in with ceramic sculpture, laser cut acrylic, and crystals. This is the largest crocheted piece I have ever made, and it took me a while time to complete. I am also proud of this installation. When I was first coming up with the idea, I knew that I wanted to work in clay, but I had absolutely no experience with the medium. I feel like I definitely learned a lot about materials during this process.

Angela McQuillan’s Chimera, on view at the Philadelphia International Airport

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

Conceptually I have been influenced by the work of Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr and their work using living tissues as a material for art making. I first learned about their work back in 2000, when they created the world’s first lab grown steak. Their work originally sparked my interest in BioArt and all the possibilities of using semi-living organisms as materials, and it was what eventually led me to start a BioArt Residency program in Philadelphia.

Aesthetically my work is known for being very colorful and maximalist, and I feel like one of my biggest influences in this regard is Yayoi Kusama. I reference her accumulation of objects in a lot of my work, especially using soft sculpture. I absolutely love her work and her life story is also very inspiring as she rose to fame during a time when women were completely marginalized in the art world. I also love the work of Lynn Hershman Leeson, which I’ve been getting into recently. She is a pioneer in feminist and new media art and has spent her career exploring the relationship humans have with technology.

Symbiotic Systems by Angela McQuillan
Angela McQuillan’s intricate works resemble cells, human organs, and living vessels.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

I think that the science-art movement has grown significantly since its first inception in the 1970s, but (in my experience) many people still view it as a fad. I want to address this and say that new trends in science not only impact healthcare and business, but also culture and society.

It is important for people to understand that biology is quickly becoming more like engineering, which means that we have the ability to easily manipulate living entities to suit our needs and desires. This is both exciting and terrifying, since these technologies have the potential to completely change life as we know it. It is essential for us to engage in the cultural issues involved with new scientific information and have all people (not just scientists) participate in an open dialogue about what it means to be alive in the world today.

Both the arts and science sectors have been negatively impacted by drastic cuts at the federal and state levels. Strong scientific information should be a critical component of decision- and policy-making. There is an urgent need for artists working with science, and for increased collaboration and cross-disciplinary communication between artists and scientists.

To find out more, check out McQuillan’s artwork, the Esther Klein Gallery, or the BioArt Residency program. You can also follow McQuillan on Instagram.

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Marine geophysics buff, printmaker, science communicator—Ele Willoughby is all of these things and more.

Using a mix of techniques, the sciartist showcases endangered species, microbes, historical figures from science, and more. She brings them to life in her colourful images and prints, offering a new look at Schroedinger’s Cat, Louis Pasteur’s bacteria, and everything in between.

Here, Willoughby shares thoughts on her creative process, her winding career path, and the notorious divide between art and science.

Cactibou by Ele Willoughby

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

I have always loved both art and science. As a child, when people would ask me what I would do as a grown-up, I said, “Something with math,” and I did grow up and study physics. But I took art throughout school and took class at the Art Gallery of Ontario when I was young.

When I reached university, I felt I had to choose between these two loves. I have a doctorate in physics—specifically, marine geophysics. Throughout grad school I spent my spare time making art and taking art courses. I was recruited as a TA for a physics course for arts students, which focused my thinking on how to communicate scientific ideas to people who are interested but might lack the mathematics or the background to easily understand.

Schroedinger’s Cat by Ele Willoughby

As a post-doctoral fellow in marine geophysics, I started to feel that I was missing something and began pursuing art more seriously. I started a small business and began selling artwork, at first in order to fund my art supply habit, but it grew. My art featured a lot of natural history. I found many other artists who had backgrounds in science and began to use my art as a means of communicating science to a wider audience. Since then I’ve worked to try and pursue both art and science or to combine the two. Now I am primarily employed as an artist.

Louis Pasteur by Ele Willoughby, thermochromic print

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

I explore a few different scientific themes in my work. I have an ongoing portrait series of figures from the history of science along with imagery related to their work. I’m particularly interested in telling a fuller story and returning those who have been too often forgotten like women and under-represented groups. There are a lot of physicists, Earth scientists, computer scientists, mathematicians and chemists in this collection, but biological and medical scientists figure too.

Maud Menten by Ele Willoughby

I think of my prints as a sort of wunderkammer and I have a large collection of natural history, especially animals. I’m fond of lesser-known creatures which often leads to highlighting endangered species or thinking about ecology and biodiversity. I have prints depicting the microbes, extinct animals, and a lot of marine invertebrates (some of which I have seen working as a scientist at sea). In parallel with this, I am working on a collection of imaginary or hybrid creatures including imaginary natural history, which is a way to explore the extraordinary diversity of real animals and their roles in the environment.

Turtles All the Way Down by Ele Willoughby

You’ll also find concepts from astronomy, physics and chemistry in my work. Sometimes I employ the physical scientists in the construction of the artwork, making interactive works, for instance with colour-changing thermochromic ink or electrically-conductive ink and electronics.

Marie Tharp by Ele Willoughby

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

I work primarily as a relief printmaking. Most of my work is linocut prints which I carve in reverse in linoleum (or similar but softer artists’ materials) or occasionally wood. I then ink these blocks and burnish Japanese washi papers onto them with a baren, a Japanese woodblock printing tool like a flat disk with a handle. I also do some collage with washi or other papers and multimedia work. I sometimes mix my own inks from pigments to get special effects like colour-changing thermochromic or UV-activated inks. I use electrically conductive paint or thread to encorporate electronics into artworks.

Wunderkammer by Ele Willoughby

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

I think I’m most proud of Wunderkammer, a show in which I was both artist and curator. My own work (also called Wunderkammer) combined several of my interests and themes from my works. It is a large work (93 cm tall x 63 cm wide x 8 cm thick) broken into several wooden boxes like a cabinet, each of which features linocuts of different types of animals. There are hidden electronics to make the work interactive. Boxes feature: a lantern-fish with glowing lure (lit by LED), a bat, tapirs, assorted jellyfish and a ctenophore or comb jelly which flashes with stochastic patterns of flashing coloured lights (lit with LEDs), an octopus, an axolotl, radiolaria and a collection of insects. There’s an ear-piece hanging from the piece; it’s literally a fabric block-printed ear. If the viewer places the ear-piece on top of the cicada, bat or tapirs, the associated field recordings of their sounds will play on a hidden speaker.

Antoni van Leeuwenhoek by Ele Willoughby

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

So many! My collection of scientist prints gives a hint of my influences. I’ve noticed that without specifically planning to do this, many of the scientists I select from the history of science were also artists. I believe firmly that the art/science divide has been grossly exaggerated. I’m influenced by Ernst Haeckel’s artwork and believe that the ‘artforms in nature’ are both beautiful and should be a great part of our world and design (though it’s worth pointing out that some of his other ideas are terrible). I love the way early descriptive science was inseparable from its illustration, as in the work of Maria Sybilla Merian or Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, or even Mary Anning or Gerardus Mercator, and this can even be seen in more recent scientists like Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Redbud and the Bees

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

I also blog about the intersection of art and science at Magpie and Whiskeyjack.

Find more about Ele Willoughby on Etsy, Instagram, Twitter, or her blogs Minouette and Magpie and Whiskeyjack.

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

LABSCAPES: Views through the Microscope offers a chance to get up close and personal with some of the tiniest wonders on earth—viewed through the eyes of renowned researchers at Israel’s leading institute of science and technology, the Technion. From March 24 to 26, 2019, the exhibit will be on view at a large conference in Washington, D.C.

Fossils: Electromagnetic collapse of metallic cylinders – from Labscapes

Using the world’s most advanced microscopic imaging systems, the special exhibit provides an incredible detailed look at materials such as clay particles, droplets of mist, the twisted helix of DNA, and more. The microscopic techniques that made the show possible can magnify materials up to 10 million times. The resulting images are arresting—both beautiful and perplexing.

Thistle: A human heart cell differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells – from Labscapes
Fall: A network of microfluidic and nanofluidic channels in polydimethylsiloxane – from Labscapes

“I observed the images through the microscope lens with an artistic eye, and every image I chose underwent computer rendering,” Anat Har-Gil, the creator and curator of LABSCAPES, told Art the Science. “Half of the images were colored as part of the research, while the other half were painted by me, though I tried to interfere as minimally as possible.”

Raindrops: Nickel particles agglomerated on an yttrium-stabilized zirconia substrate – from Labscapes
Sunflower: An endothelial cell colony-forming unit – from Labscapes

Har-Gil is a member of the Technion’s Computing and Information Systems Department, but she’s also a gifted painter and sculptor. She leaned heavily on both of her passions to bring the exhibit—the first to ever grace the Technion—to fruition.

Lighting: Mechanosensory neuron of an aging nematode – from Labscapes
Carpet of Flowers: Mesenchymal stem cells on a nanofibrous scaffold – from Labscapes

Each of the works in the show is a byproduct of a research project, created by a scientist at work. But these vibrant images are celebrated from a novel perspective in LABSCAPES. Har-Gil chose images that mirrored aspects of the natural world—a green field, a carpet of flowers, a flash of lightning—pushing both viewers and researchers to consider their surroundings in a new light.

Field: Cross-section of a nanoprorous biomimetic calcium phosphate layer on a titanium surface – from Labscapes

“It is wonderful to see how my micron scale images, which I use in my work, resemble things we all see in our daily lives,” Hadar Nahor, one of the creators in the show, reflects in a video interview available on the LABSCAPES website.

Striking and thought-provoking, LABSCAPES feels both familiar and like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

LABSCAPES is on view from March 24-26, 2019 and features contributions from Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie; Professor Dan Shechtman, 2011 Nobel laureate in chemistry; Distinguished Professor of Physics Mordechai (Moti) Segev, 2014 Israel Prize winner; Professor Alon Hoffman, Dean of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry; and researchers Merav Karsenty and Nadya Ostromohov.

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Name: Sarah Friend

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

The easy answer is art because it’s what I studied in university, but the easy answer is too easy and the real story is always mixed. My grandfather was a painter, and I spend many hours with him in his studio as a child – but I also was a mathlete. Later, in high school I took mostly art classes but the reasons are complicated. I won the science award in grade 10, which meant I had the highest science grade in the school, but during the awards ceremony I didn’t go up on stage to accept because the other students kept chanting “NERD, NERD, NERD” over and over. I dropped all my science classes for the year after. I didn’t have a lot of friends – instead, I stayed up late in my room by myself writing my own blog templates in notepad and posting in various bbs’. So despite my art degree, part of my wants to reclaim these things, say: “I was always technical.” “I always loved science.” Or maybe just, “I belong here.”

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

Computer science. More specifically maybe, distributed systems, cryptography, network science, a bit of economics? I work in the blockchain industry, which borrows a little bit from all of these disciplines but is more anarchic than all of them.

I’m doing a project right now with a DCGAN (deep convoluted generative adversarial network), which would be machine learning. A bit of a departure, but having too many interests is an ok problem to have.

Perverse Affordances Screenshot Perverse Affordances Screenshot

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

Almost all of my work is software, often browser-based games and interactive experiences. I like working in the browser for the same reason I like working with games – it feels like a people’s medium. Sure, these works can be exhibited in galleries and museums but their true home is on your phone or computer. I am skeptical of privileged exhibition sites and precious objects.

I like to think of software as an art medium, and engage with it the way a painter interacts with paint: sometimes the accidental brushstroke is the most beautiful.

Transformation Transformation

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

Probably ClickMine is my most well-known and widely exhibited piece. It’s a blockchain based clicker game that mints a token on the ethereum blockchain – except that the token is hyperinflationary. I recently exhibited it at The Brandscape in Toronto, which is my favourite installation of it so far. It was in an office cubicle with a desk set up inside, and I covered the floor of the gallery with living sod. Over the course of the exhibition the grass died – making literal the onscreen environmental degradation.

ClickMine Screenshot ClickMine at The Brandscape 5

Personally though, I still think You Are A Rock is my favourite work. Many of the themes from ClickMine are there too, in their infancy.

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

On the science side, Alexandra Elbakyan is inspirational. I believe strongly in freedom of information and open access to science, perhaps partly because I’m a self taught developer and grad school dropout. I hope she perseveres, and stays as free as the research she distributes.

Additionally, maybe Trevor Paglen – I really appreciate the counter-surveillance and mapping efforts of his earlier work. Moxie Marlinspike, co-creator of the signal protocol, has done far more than most to bring strong encryption into mass adoption. Finally, Ingrid Burrington’s investigations into the materiality of technology are always fascinating, funny, and poignant.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

Thanks for reading, and don’t give up.

Artist Links: Twitter, Instagram

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Filmmaker, multimedia designer, creative coder, teacher—Joseph Carr is all of these things and more. Employing a unique mix of digital techniques, the Baltimore-based sciartist creates complex two- and three-dimensional forms that bring together the worlds of mathematics and biology. His detailed, geometric works are spectral and other-worldly—somehow both futuristic and familiar.

Here, Carr tells us about his creative process, artistic inspirations, fascination with Turing patterns, and more.

Ascorbic Acid by Joseph Carr, polarized light micrograph, 2015

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

These two interests have been so interleaved it’s hard to say. When I was a kid in the 1980s I watched a ton of NOVA on PBS and was very interested in a lot of science-adjacent things like wildlife and science-fiction. By the time I got to high school I was taking drawing and photography classes, but like a lot of people I wasn’t sure there was a career in that. All those childhood interests began to pay off, and I found I already knew a lot of the material being taught in my science classes. I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a mentoring program administered by the National Science Foundation and I enrolled at a magnet school, which helped me enter college with a lot of credit toward a Biology degree. I never finished that degree, because I left school to work as a computer programmer during the final days of the dot com boom. Eventually I completed a BA in Communications, worked briefly as a multimedia programmer, and then was able to go back for an MFA, which brought me into teaching.

Moon, 12 October 2016 (Enhanced Natural Color) by Joseph Carr, Digitally processed astrophotography, 2016
Moon, 25 May 2018 by Joseph Carr, digitally processed astrophotography, 2018

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

If I had to pick one “happy place” it would be the intersection of biology and applied mathematics. I’m propelled (or maybe dragged around) by equal parts curiosity and fascination, so I end up being intellectually promiscuous. I spend more time reading about and watching media coverage of astronomy and planetary science than anything else, but I think that’s in large part because the fields have good press and a lot of enthusiastic followers. I still love the life sciences, which I read about in the news sections of Science and Nature, but there’s relatively less high quality coverage of life sciences in the popular press.

Probably the best examples of concepts that tickle my curiosity and fascination bones are Turing patterns and cellular automata. In both cases, these are mathematical systems (devised by people we associate with computer science) that have analogs in biological systems. There are multiple levels to engage curiosity: how does the math work, how does the chemistry work, and how can we implement these things in computer code? And they’re also visually fascinating systems that can produce amazing varieties of form.

GAIA Data Release 1 Subsample by Joseph Carr, Astronomical data visualization, 2017

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

I constantly return to digital methods and techniques, whether that’s digital photography, video, or totally synthetic, computer generated images. I do like objects and physical media—I’ve made books and cyanotype prints, and I seem to have a hoarding problem when it comes to cameras and anything optical—but at several points in the past I’ve sworn off making things in favor of a more compact, fully digitized creative life.

There’s something tremendously appealing to me about the idea of using code and data as art-making materials. I love the clash of ideas in putting “The Proceduralist Manifesto” (1989), by Judson Rosebush, up against “On ‘Sourcery,’ or Code as Fetish” (2008) by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. Is source code, as Rosebush might contend, and as Chun phrases it, “the ultimate performative utterance”?

Cyrtophormis Spiralis by Joseph Carr, 3D render 2016
Pterocorys Rhinoceros by Joseph Carr, 3D render, 2016

Artwork you are most proud of:

Of my recent work, I think I’d select the series of 3D renderings that remake an Art Nouveau print by Ernst Haeckel. I enjoy the idea that my digital renditions could appear to be the output of a generative design process, so have a contemporary look. That echoes Haeckel’s depictions of radiolarians, which were drawn from the cutting edge science performed on the Challenger expedition‘s trawls of the Mariana Trench and were au courant with late 19th century aesthetics. (That said, Haeckel as a historical figure is a cautionary tale about science communicators and popularizers overreaching in their conclusions.)

Anthocyrtium Campanula by Joseph Carr, 3D render, 2016
Alacorys Bismarckii by Joseph Carr, 3D render, 2016

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

There are too many to list so I will narrow my answer to include some researchers who taught me directly and some people who are currently creating great sciart and scicomm. My closest brush with a real scientific celebrity was a class visit with Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, whose textbook, Animal Physiology, I had been studying that semester. Dr. Schmidt-Nielsen was a great storyteller and an amazing explicator of principles, for example, countercurrent exchange in the noses of desert rodents, duck feet, and dolphin fins. But the high point of my education in biology was an internship in Dr. Sue Moenter’s lab that spanned several summers, during which I was able to contribute to actual research into the endocrinology of mammalian reproduction.

I’m constantly inspired by people who are out there getting the job done. One of the best science communicators working today is Emily Lakdawalla, who blogs for the Planetary Society. Lakdawalla explains results clearly, with appropriate context, and is an exemplar of responsible science writing—neither hyperbolic nor reductive. Definitely check out her montages of solar system objects made to scale with normalized albedo and their terminators aligned.

My favorite science video series on YouTube, Emily Grassley’s The Brain Scoop, is an enthusiastic romp through natural history collections. I confess that I’m nostalgic for the early days of the series when Grassley was an art student with a weird interest in taxidermy preparing specimens for a small campus natural history museum.

Finally, I want to quickly mention several of my favorite sci-artists with who have a good presence on the web and social media: Lizzie Harper, who is primarily a botanical illustrator but also a generous teacher, Carim Nahaboo, who does amazing entomology work, and Charles Krebs, who both makes amazing photomicrographs as well as sharing great information on technique.

Sucrose by Joseph Carr, 3D render, 2017

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

I love working with scientists and I’m available for commissions!

For more by Joseph Carr, check out his website or follow him on Instagram.

Share this Post


Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

A long dark hallway stretches before me. To my right are more hallways, each lined with tall black cabinets containing taxidermied birds of all shapes and sizes. To my left, a concrete wall peppered with photographic film transparencies. Each is backlit with a bright LED—the main source of light in this strange underground space. The overall effect is unnerving and, surprisingly, compelling. Before I can think twice, I find myself walking forward into the dim.

I’m at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, BC, the site of local sciartist Catherine M. Stewart’s latest exhibition, Skin & Bones. I first discovered Stewart’s work at a Curiosity Collider event earlier this year, where she shared some of her stunning photo collages and discussed her creative practice. I was instantly hooked, and booked my visit to the Beaty as soon as I could.

Catherine M. Stewart’s Skin & Bones is on view at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum until August 13, 2019.

In Skin & Bones, Stewart explores the problematic relationship between humans and animals. Bringing together visual art, science, and fashion, she highlights the commonalities between us and the diverse species we share this earth with, as well as the many ways in which we’ve distanced ourselves from our non-human kin.

The photographic pieces that line the wall combine aspects of the human form with images of specimens found in the museum’s natural history collections. A woman’s hands cradle a tiny owl skeleton. Ten tiny toes peek out from under a pair of webbed feet. An x-ray of a human skull gains a mouthful of river otter teeth. These juxtapositions are striking—uncomfortably sterile, yet oddly sensual.

Homo sapiens with saw-whet owl (skeleton) – by Catherine M. Stewart
Homo sapiens with gull (feet) – by Catherine M. Stewart
Homo sapiens with Northern river otter (skull) – by Catherine M. Stewart

Interspersed between the photographic fixtures are glass display cases containing accessories from the clothing collections of Claus Jahnke & Ivan Sayers. Among the offerings I spot an ornate ostrich feather fan, a corset made of baleen, and, my personal favourite, a pair of snakeskin boots with two sets of beedie black eyes. Animal specimens are tucked between each of these ornate accessories, reminding viewers of the living, breathing species with which these creations were made.

Accessories from the clothing collections of Claus Jahnke & Ivan Sayers, on view in Skin & Bones.

Everywhere I look I find teeth and scales, feathers and fingers, skin and bones. The images compliment and complicate one another, blurring the line between scientist and specimen, exhibitor and exhibit, human and animal.

As I finally turn to go, I take a last glance over my shoulder at the display case behind me. I lock eyes with a passenger pigeon propped up behind the glass, and see my own face reflected back at me.

Skin & Bones is on view at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum until August 13, 2019. Find out more about Catherine M. Stewart on her website.

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Recycled yarn gains a new life in Vanessa Barragão‘s colourful creations. The Portuguese sciartist has built her entire career from the scraps cast aside by the mass textile industry. Using a crochet hook and materials she finds on the factory floor, she creates vibrant coral seascapes, each an intricate rendering of one of earth’s most vulnerable ecosystems. In doing so, she hopes to raise awareness about the problematic nature of the textile industry and its disastrous impacts on coral reef environments.

But it isn’t just the upcycled materials that make Barragão’s work so unique. “I try to be as eco-friendly as possible in my production methods,” she says, “using ancestral and handmade techniques—like latch hook, hand-tuft, embroidery, felt, and crochet—to create my artworks.”

Here, Barragão shares more about her creative process and the incredibly delicate ecosystems that inspire her.

Which came first in your life, the science or the art?

The art. Since my childhood I always loved to draw and crochet.

Vanessa Barragão at work on a new creation.

Which sciences relate to your art practice?

Biology and ecology.

What materials do you use to create your artworks?

I believe in using upcycling to attempt to fight global warming and improve our Earth’s health. All the materials I use come from the dead stock of several local factories. I clean them, then recycle and reuse them in my projects to inspire people to create and live with conscience on a daily basis for a better planet.

Vanessa Barrago’s Ocean Tapestry

Artwork/Exhibition you are most proud of:

The Coral Garden tapestry. This was my last big work, which I presented at Domotex Hannover 2019.

Vanessa Barragão’s Coral Garden Tapestry, on view at Domotex Hannover

Which scientists and/or artists inspire and/or have influenced you?

Recently I went on a research trip to one of the few still fully preserved coral reefs sites in the world, Raja Ampat. Besides the abundant and diverse sea life living on the seabed, the way that everything flowed in such a harmonious, natural dynamic inspired me so much. Having the chance to contemplate this scenario was a milestone for me. It made me think that everybody should have the opportunity to do the same in order to comprehend the absolute need and importance of these ecosystems.

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

The mass textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world. All the machinery used requires tons of energy while producing a lot of waste. It is extremely harmful for our planet and it affects all of its different natural environments, particularly the ocean, which absorbs 90% of the pollution in our atmosphere. Global warming is erasing some of the most vital environments—coral reefs. These living and complex natural organisms are the heart of an immense habitat of marine species, which depend on one another to survive. Without this pilar, many types of sea life may become extinct, which will ultimately affect us and many other living species.

Find out more about Vanessa Barragão on her website, or follow her on Instagram at @vanessabarragao_work.

Share this Post

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Fara Peluso literally makes canvas come to life. For the past few months, the Berlin-based artist and designer has been collaborating with Solaga—a startup specializing in the use of algae for clean air, energy, and a range of sustainable systems—to create a living, breathing wall installation out of algae biofilm. Mounted within a quadratic glass frame, this stunning experimental work grows and breathes in real time. By cultivating an energy generating algae biofilms before viewers’ eyes, the project offers a fresh look at algae—our main oxygen producers on earth—and the innovative biotechnologies that may soon define our future.

Peluso’s creation can be seen at Living Canvas, on view until April 15, 2019 at the STATE Studio in Berlin. The exhibition is complemented by a public workshop series titled Algature, which introduces participants to spirulina algae and invites them to play with their own speculative design ideas. The next Algature workshop takes place on March 12 at the STATE Studio’s “DIY biology laboratory.”

For those who can’t make it to the STATE Studio in person, we’re sharing a taste of Peluso’s stunning work and the fascinating process behind it:

Fara Pelusa in action – photo by Anne Freitag
Photo by Anne Freitag
Photo by Anne Freitag
Photo by Anne Freitag
The scene is set at the Algaculture workshop series – photo by Anne Freitag
Algature workshop participants experiment with spirulina algae – photo by Anne Freitag
Fara Pelusa walks participants through some of the basics at an Algacture workshop – photo by Anne Freitag

For more information about Living Canvas or the Algature workshop series, visit the STATE Studio’s website or follow them on Instagram at @statestudiobln.

Share this Post

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview