Monday, October 26, 2009

ArtScience, Nature's little masons, inter alia

This coming Wednesday (28th) an ArtScience symposium titled Illustrating the Unseeable - Reconnecting Art and Science is being hosted by the Electronic Arts section of the School of Art, Dunedin. 

Leonardo, Galileo, Einstein, Heron-Allen (I wrote up about the legendary H-A a few months back) and co. would be oh-so-happy to hear this. Contemporary proponents of ArtScience, Lynn Margulis, Sam Bowser, Elinor Mossop, Richard Feynman, Cynthia Pannucci (founder of NY-based Art & Science Collaboration Inc. (ASCI)), Lisa Roberts, Peter Charuk and others will rejoice. 


Perhaps we could make a point of dangling events like these under the noses of our NZ government in a bid to shake up their thinking around our country's education policies? Their latest conclusions reveal such dismal lack of insight. Pull back on funding; increase the systematization of our education environments, saboutage teachers' autonomy and vocational creativity. What can they possibly be thinking? And what of our ripe-for-learning children? Education by nature resists straight-jacketing. It cannot do otherwise. We're obliged to rebel and insist on more, surely? How can a country such as this one, with its abundance and privilege - not embrace and promote education that's integrative, progressive, contemporary, relevant to current global realities and sensibly, necessarily more liberal-arts* oriented? The three Rs are all very solid and fine, but honestly... I shake my head. 

Tune in to the excellent, eloquent Sir Ken Robinson speaking about Creativity in Schools. 


Back to Wednesday... 

The day's gathering will include presentations by:

Dr. KarstenSchneider Animator/Marine biologist, Pixel Dust Studios. Professor Geoff Wyvill Computer Science, University of Otago. Peter Stupples Art Theory,Dunedin School of Art. Associate Professor Mike Paulin Zoology, University of Otago. Nicola Gibbons Artist. Trevor Coleman Composer/Musician. Claire Beynon Artist. Bridie Lonie Art Theory, Dunedin School of Art. Pete Gorman MFA candidate, Dunedin School of Art. Andrew LastJewellery, Dunedin School of Art. Paul Trotman General Medical Practitioner/Filmmaker, Dunedin. Felicity Molloy Massage Therapy, Otago Polytechnic. Peter Batson Marine Biologist/Filmmaker, Deep Sea Productions. Alistair Regan Department of Design, Otago Polytechnic. Amos Mann Museum Educator and musician. Chris Ebbert Product Design, Otago Polytechnic, Marcus Turner Research and Information Coordinator, Natural History New Zealand. Dr. Mark McGuire Design Studies, University of Otago. Stu Smith Animator/Computer Scientist, Animation Research Ltd. Julian Priest Artist and independent researcher.

"The 'infotainment' industry perpetually hungers for innovation in the popular delivery of scientific visualizations. At the same time developments in computer graphic imaging and computer enhanced media offer uncharted potential for illustrating the unseeable. Even so, at present, key expositional elements for feature film and broadcast media are commonly created by commercial animation studios whose graphic designers primarily reference a cache of pre-existing broadcast and feature film work to solve graphic concept puzzles. We think there is scope for a different kind of engagement between art and science. 

In a parallel universe - far flung artists, stimulated by the fecund muse of scientific theory explore 'lateral' ways to illustrate and embody ground-breaking theoretical concepts. Artists are developing new ways to interpret science, creating a rich reservoir of ideas; a vastly extended idiom. 

Nearly 500 years ago, Renaissance artists and scientists illuminated worlds of imagination, theory, function and possibility. With the industrial revolution came the inevitable segregation of art and science toward functional material efficiency driven largely by the trade of the day. But in the twenty-first century, economics have irrevocably expanded. Now abstractions and their symbolic expression are traded with the same currency as more 'tangible' cargo. As surely as industrial fetishism dictates a schism between art and science, network economics enable a reunion. 

We view this an an opportune moment to begin a discussion given Dunedin's rich academic and creative environment. 

With a focus toward bringing arts practice in touch with the popular dissemination of innovative ideas, through a variety of media conduits - from traditional broadcast to cutting edge graphic interfaces in location-based museum installations - Electronic Arts will host a symposium to encourage cross-media and cross-disciplinary connections. 

Electronic Arts within the School of Arts is dedicated to critical research practices in digital and electronic media. Being positioned within a School of Art allows us a unique perspective of digital media and technologies. Organized by David Green and Susan Ballard, this symposium will provide a forum for discussions of scientific illustration within our city. A range of invited participants will present short talks addressing scientific illustration as it relates to their research and development focus. Comprised neither of formal papers not trade pitches, this symposium is intended to stimulate a Dunedin nexus between world and local contemporary arts practice and cutting edge science toward media dissemination."


Astrammina triangularis

My short presentation for Wednesday is titled Nature's Little Masons, and yes, I will be talking about foraminifera, sculptors extraordinaire of the microcosmic world. A passion for ArtScience (+ the advocacy thereof) has been in me for some time but as you already know, the fires were really ignited by my Antarctic experiences. 

Fire and ice; an interesting juxtaposition of elements - and not as polar opposite as one might think. Mind you, is anything when we look at it up close?


* The term liberal arts denotes a curriculum that imparts general knowledge and develops the student’s rational thought and intellectual capabilities, unlike the professional,vocational, technical curricula emphasizing specialization. The contemporary liberal arts comprise studying literaturelanguagesphilosophyhistorymathematics, and science.[1] In classical antiquity, the liberal arts denoted the education proper to a free man (Latinliber, “free”), unlike the education proper to a slave. In the 5th Century AD, Martianus Capella academically defined the seven Liberal Arts as: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. 


  1. I'm sure you know Robert Frost's poem Fire and Ice?

  2. Hello T. Clear

    Thanks for popping by and for this reminder! You sent me in search of Frost's poem... one I find slightly bewildering for some reason. I think it's his use of the word 'hate'; a word I have difficulty with and would happily erase from the dictionary! But ah, Frost... he is a genius, his work a gift to the world.

    I've been loving your blog, T.Clear - visit it every time you post something new. Thank you.

    FIRE & ICE

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I've tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    R. Frost.

  3. Claire, I'm with you on the word "hate." We could easily do away with it and all its manifestations.