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Science art: art in science or science in art

Science art: art in science or science in art

21/10/2022

In the last century, in different parts of the world, people suddenly realized that combining what previously seemed incompatible with other civilizations' development was necessary—applying this principle in cooking led to the invention of salted caramel and in fashion - to the harmonious combination of different styles of clothing. It would be strange if this process bypassed such a conservative field of activity as science. Trying to look at the subject of their research from a new angle, scientists began to use the methods and techniques of fine art. The result exceeded all expectations - a new layer of objects belonging to both the world of science and the world of art won the sympathy of the mass audience. Thus, a new interdisciplinary direction called science art appeared.

It is mainly represented by performances and art objects that meet the following criteria:

Artists and scientists (sometimes the same person) participated in the creation.

The event has artistic and scientific value.

Materials, equipment, and methods specific to science are used.

Today, about a dozen subtypes of science art can surprise even an unprepared viewer with their spectacularity.

Bio-art

The term "bio-art" was first used by the Brazilian artist and scientist Eduardo Kac, but some works in this style began to appear in the 80s of the twentieth century. Cells, tissues, organs, and bodies of living organisms are used as the primary artistic material. Art objects are created not only in laboratories but also in art studios using special equipment and biotechnology. Some representatives of this direction insist on the need to work exclusively with "live" material, but not everyone adheres to this principle.

Eduardo Kac and Fluorescent Rabbit

«The fluorescent rabbit» Eduardo Kac. Photos © ephemeral-spaces.com

One of the most iconic works of bio-art is the fluorescent rabbit, created by Eduardo Kac in 2000 by transferring part of a fluorescent jellyfish's DNA into a mammal's DNA. Another interesting work is COVID-19 music. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute created it by reproducing the sequence of virus proteins with the help of musical instruments and the chains of amino acids with the service of notes. It turned out that the melody of the deadly virus is soothing hip-hop played with the flute, bells, and the Japanese instrument koto.

Roboart

Perfect articulation of robotic mechanisms has always fascinated the audience and caused a unique aesthetic pleasure. At some point, robotics experts concluded that this charm of robots could be used to popularize the achievements of science. This is how a new art direction called robot art appeared. The first art objects and performances in this style appeared even before our era in China. Then, with the help of mechanized puppets, small performances were held to entertain the emperor and aristocrats. After the invention of the steam engine, more complex art objects began to appear. One was the so-called "Steam Man" by George Moore, presented to the public in New York in 1893.

But the real flowering of robot art began after the invention of computers and nanotechnology. Today, performances can be seen at world exhibitions in the largest capitals of the EU, America, and Asia. The complexity of work increases as new technologies are invented. If once one master could prepare an art object, today, several dozen specialists can take part in creating the work. Such large-scale projects could be seen in 2018 in the Grand Palais in the French capital at the exhibition "Artists & Robots.

Robots can draw pictures, play musical instruments, and perform various complex tasks during performances. In addition, their work's mechanisms and visual effects can be objects of aesthetic pleasure in themselves.

Light art

The range of approaches to the problem of light in art is so broad that today there is no canonical list of all areas of light art. In Europe, the first experiments with light in the field of art began in the Middle Ages, when masters created stained-glass windows in churches to enhance the visual perception of religious scenes. In the twentieth century, the baton was taken over by masters of different directions of modernism and contemporary art.

After the appearance of LED light sources, the direction received a new impetus for development. The natural beauty of colored lighting made it possible to hold large-scale light shows and festivals.

light show - Vivid Light

«Vivid Light» light show, Sydney. Photos © australianwayeducation.com

This includes pop art, light kinetic art, and light street art. One of the first international events, "Vivid Light," was held in 2009 in Sydney. After that, light shows began to be held around the world.

Info-art

The source of inspiration for the representatives of this direction was the visualization of computer data, artificial intelligence, and program codes. With some reservations, some of the works of NFT can be attributed to information art. Info-art has been actively developing since the early 70s of the twentieth century after the exhibition of C. McShane called "Informatics". Faced with other contemporary art areas, info-art touches on political and social issues. Critics also note a certain kinship between information and conceptual art. Both directions focus society's attention on the essence of objects and phenomena that make up our reality. The principles of info-art are actively used in creating various interactive installations.

Nano-art

This trend emerged after the invention of nanotechnology. The main idea of nano-art is to demonstrate to the viewer the capabilities of technology to create microscopic art objects. In the early XXI century, statues, paintings, and other works filled the exhibition halls dedicated to new art. Among the landmark events of the noughties, we can mention the exhibition "NANO" (2003) at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, as well as installations by Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski (2004-2005).

Film by IBM Research studio - A Boy and His Atom

«A Boy and His Atom» IBM Research studio. Photos © knowhow.pp.ua

One of the most notable works was created in 2012. It was a one-minute animated film of 242 images of 45×25 nm called "A Boy and His Atom ."It was filmed by IBM Research studio staff using a microscope. Another iconic work of nano-art is a microscopic book of 30 pages measuring 0.07×0.10 mm, "Teeny Ted from Turnip Town ." It was "printed" on a silicon base using a beam of gallium ions. The circulation of the publication was 100 copies.

Telematic art

The world first learned about telematic art in the late 70s of the twentieth century. The concept of a new direction was proposed by Simon Nor and Alain Mink in the book "Computerization of Society ."According to the authors, telematic art is destined to overcome the barrier between the art object and the viewer by creating a typical interactive environment through media technologies. In 1978, a conference called "Terminal Art" was held between the United States and the United Kingdom. The participants of the event could exchange information in the process of discussing the problems of aesthetics. Later, the projects of one of the founders of telematic art Roy Escot called "10 Wings" and "La Plissure du Texte," were implemented. The ideas and principles of telematic art formed the basis of the concept of the World Wide Web and social networks.

Sound art

Researchers have yet to be a consensus about what can be considered sound art. Probably, the term "sound art" was first used in 1979 during an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). There is no doubt that the material of all works in this direction of sound art is sound. The pieces are created based on sound ecology, acoustics, psychoacoustics principles, and the study of cultural aspects of sound reproduction. Developing the concept of sound art, art critic Don Goddard later stated that hearing could be considered an alternative way of seeing the world that complements vision. From this, he concluded that sound could reveal its meaning only in combination with visual images.

Sound installation by Kristina Kubish - Electric Walks

«Electric Walks» Kristina Kubish. Photos © lift11.ee

Sound installation is considered one of the most popular forms of sound art. Its main feature focuses on interaction with the environment and the audience. The installation "Electric Walks" by German artist Christina Kubisch (2004-2005) gives a clear idea of the essence of sound art. The event participants received headphones capable of broadcasting the processed sounds of electromagnetic fields. Moving along a specific route, people could hear unusual sounds, completely immersing themselves in the ambient urban environment.

KyivGallery art critic