“Science In Surrealism” At Gallery Wendi Norris In San Francisco Explores The Scientific Influences Of This Avant-Garde Movement

July 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

By Joe Ferguson for SciArt in America

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Victor Brauner, “Indicateur de l’Éspace,” c. 1934. Oil on canvas 17 7/8 x 21 3/8 inches (55.8 x 54.3 cm)


The term SciArt may have been coined in the 1980s, but the intermingling of science and art is much older. Early Greek statuary portrayed anatomy in representations that could have only come from careful examination. Italian Renaissance painters practiced human dissection as early at the 15th century. Many French impressionists explored the latest discoveries of visual science in their paintings. One movement, however, is rarely talked about–the surrealist painters and the influence of early 20th-century physicists. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Birthday Dreamscape | Act III: The Hybrid Here and Now

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the universe

Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

The birthday came and went, but the angst have not subsided.

Stop thinking so much about the future.  Worry not about your place in the universe.  Quit the futile attempt of analyzing yourself.  “Here and now” I remind myself.  Live the moment as it is!

But where is Here and what is in the Now?  And how best to capture the moment?  Suddenly I am so disoriented that even the zen attitude is challenged on the most fundamental levels.

The lifelogging exhibition still open for a few more days, my mind revisits the Science Gallery to take a look at another installation, which could be a superior method of capturing the “now”.  Compared to some of the other works, it also emphasizes “caring for oneself” more than “knowing oneself”.  Since the 24th September 2003, Alberto Frigo, an Italian media artist currently living in Sweden, has been photographing objects he has used with his right hand, as one of eighteen different aspects of reality he is collecting.

It has been 31 years since I inked the very first word in my journal, but my teenage self at the time gave it no forethought whatsoever about this number. Three decades in the future would have felt like the next life to her, too distant to be bothered with.   Frigo’s project, on the other hand, is well planned out – it will be 36-years-long, from 2004 to 2040 when he turns 60.

Alberto Frigo’s exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, Netherland, April 2015

Alberto Frigo’s exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, Netherland, April 2015

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My journal since July 1984

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A Birthday Dreamscape | Act I: Digital Gods and A Voyage to the Edge of the Universe

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Synopsis:

Amidst birthday blues, a middle-aged woman contemplates humans’ digital trajectory, the Age of Data, and her own destiny, as she samples arts reflecting artificial intelligence, quantified self, virtual reality, lifelogging and other digital advances,  in a series of reveries.

Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


April.  My birthday was coming.
Perhaps as a defense mechanism against the anxiety of putting on another year, my mind wandered far and wide.

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the Universe

Sapiens bookcoverFirst it scans the entire humanity’s creation and evolution, as narrated by the brilliant Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari in his brilliant new book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind”.  Homo sapiens (of whom I am one) came to dominate the Planet through three great “Revolutions”: the Cognitive, the Agricultural, and the Scientific, he posited.  We conquered the world because of our affinity for myth-making and stories. Our fictions allow us to cooperate.    We buy into universally accepted “imagined realities” that bind us together and have given us power: Religion. Money. Nation states. Corporations…  We are now so powerful we can trump nature and be our own intelligent designers.

Harari’s framework makes perfect sense to me.  His wit, sarcasm and subversive humor are very much to my taste.  However, more than how we got here, I am on an emergency to know where we are going.  Hence, I cannot help but skip 70,000 years to jump to the last chapter: “The End of Homo Sapiens”. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Sound and The Fury. And the Redemption?

April 26, 2015 § 7 Comments

A scientist’s chamber orchestra project for nature and humanity, a photographer’s beautifully haunting industrial documentary, an architect designer’s alluring vision of future human habitat, and my (humble) reflections.

Fashionably late for Earth Day.

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Saturday morning at WholeFoods.  I sit down at a table outside the check-out counters to start writing this article, while my parents go into the aisles for the week’s grocery.  Earlier in the car, they were discussing an added task for this weekend – which other shops to go to next, to get what present for which relative or friend, since my father is going back to China for a month, my hometown being one of his stops.  The task is a rather difficult one these days, as China has every kind of stuff sold in America, then some; but gifts remain a must to bring along with a visit, as good social grace and relationship gestures.  Pushing a green shopping trolley, they continue their discussions.

 I, on the other hand, am preoccupied with my article for Earth Day.  WholeFoods seems like an appropriate venue to kick off the writing while waiting for my parents to go through their chores.  But before I type the first word, that feel-right ambiance also cast a shadow of doubt.  Have I, a California-living, healthy-eating, WholeFoods-shopping “liberal progressive” become too out of touch with reality and too self-righteous? « Read the rest of this entry »

The Devastating Stereotype of the Artless Scientist

February 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Copyright StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

Copyright StudioCanal and The Weinstein Company.

Written by Dylan Nugent; posted on Medium on February 22nd, 2015

This article contains minor spoilers for the plots of The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, The Social Network, and A Beautiful Mind. Also containing these spoilers: history.

Tonight, two remarkably similar films compete to be crowned as the best film of 2014. Both The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything cover a young, middle class, white, British, Cambridge-educated mathematician as they make groundbreaking claims and discoveries while trying to overcome an obstacle put in their path.

A few weeks ago Graham Moore, the Oscar-nominated (update: Oscar-winning, congratulations to Mr. Moore!) screenwriter for The Imitation Game, wrote a rather excellent article on Medium about the difficulty of portraying brilliant characters fairly. In his article, Mr. Moore talks about the historical importance of Alan Turing’s accomplishments and the stereotypical lense through which genius often gets portrayed. It surprised me when reading his article that until I reached the part about how he hadwritten the film in question, I actually assumed it was a criticism of the film’s treatment of Alan Turing. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Physics of Jazz and “Here Comes Now”

August 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

By day, Dr. Stephon Alexander, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College, is a theoretical physicist specializing in the interface between cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity.  By night, he “blows sax”.  Born in Trinidad and raised in Bronx, NY,  Alexander draws music heritage from Jazz,  Caribbean Reggae and Hip Hop.   His ambition in science is big – to unify quantum theory, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and string theory, which have fascinated him since childhood, into a theory of quantum gravity!  When he gets stuck, he turns to music like Einstein used to do, except his instrument for relaxation and subconscious realization is the tenor saxophone, instead of violin and piano.

“Exploring a physics problem is like jazz improvisation—understanding the basic rules and themes lets you take off in spontaneous new directions. Music allows me to understand physics on a simpler, yet deeper level.”

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Anatomy Inside Rodin’s Hands

August 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

As impressive as the Rodin collection at Stanford University’s Cantor Art Center – one of the largest in the world, with 200 works in all – most of them are not one and only edition of the artist’s masterpieces.  As part of his bequest, Auguste Rodin authorized the Nation of France to continue to cast his works poshumously, either from his original plaster molds or from molds newly taken from his plasters.  Up to twelve examples of each size can be cast of each of Rodin’s works.

However, a recent exhibition at the museum (on view April 9 – August 3), inspired by the great artist’s sculptures of human hands,  was truly one of its kind.

A multidisciplinary collaboration between the Cantor Art Center and Dr. James Chang, a hand reconstruction surgeon at Stanford’s School of Medicine, supported by the School’s Division of Clinical Anatomy and the Lane Medical Library, “Inside Rodin’s Hands: Art, Technology, and Surgery” looked at the artist’s powerful depictions of hands with an anatomical eye, aided by cutting-edge technologies such as 3D imaging and augmented reality.    Take for example Left Hand of Eustache de Saint-Pierre.  The images and video clip here illustrate the three-dimension, anatomical view for visitors to see “beneath the skin”, with imaginary bones, nerves and blood vessels:

Photo of Rodin's sculpture "Left hand of Eustache de Saint-Pierre" during the scanning process. Photo by Matthew Hasel, Production Manager, Division of Clinical Anatomy, Stanford School of Medicine. Art caption: Auguste Rodin (France, 1840–1917), “Left Hand of Eustache de Saint-Pierre,” c. 1886. Bronze. Cantor Arts Center collection, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1998.359.

“Left hand of Eustache de Saint-Pierre” during the scanning process. Photo by Matthew Hasel, Production Manager, Division of Clinical Anatomy, Stanford School of Medicine. Art caption: Auguste Rodin (France, 1840–1917), “Left Hand of Eustache de Saint-Pierre,” c. 1886. Bronze. Cantor Arts Center collection, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1998.359.

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Science Is Not About Certainty

July 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

The separation of science and the humanities is relatively new—and detrimental to both

By .  Excerpted from The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos. Copyright © 2014 by Edge Foundation, Inc. Published by Harper Perennial.

We teach our students: We say that we have some theories about science. Science is about hypothetico-deductive methods; we have observations, we have data, data require organizing into theories. So then we have theories. These theories are suggested or produced from the data somehow, then checked in terms of the data. Then time passes, we have more data, theories evolve, we throw away a theory, and we find another theory that’s better, a better understanding of the data, and so on and so forth.

This is the standard idea of how science works, which implies that science is about empirical content; the true, interesting, relevant content of science is its empirical content. Since theories change, the empirical content is the solid part of what science is.

Now, there’s something disturbing, for me, as a theoretical scientist, in all this. I feel that something is missing. Something of the story is missing. I’ve been asking myself, “What is this thing missing?” I’m not sure I have the answer, but I want to present some ideas on something else that science is. « Read the rest of this entry »

X-Ray Flora And Fauna Come Together As Art

July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

By Andrew Nunes, originally published in The Creators Project Blog

Fairly uncommon among the visual arts canon, X-ray artworks certainly do pop up from time to time, ranging from colorized X-ray portraits to digital digital X-ray mirrors. While fauna— and sometimes even animal-human amalgamated hybrids— can be the subjects of these works, very rarely have flora been X-rayed for artistic purposes.

Arie van ’t Riet, a Dutch physicist who specializes in low-energy radiology, decided to intersect X-rays with plant and animal life forms in a series of works that bring art together with science in a refreshing manner. The works show X-rays of a variety of animals including iguanas and ducks, amongst an even more variegated group of plants. Certain portions of the flora and fauna are colorized through Photoshop, resulting in fantastic polychromatic fragments amongst the traditional monochromatic tones of X-rays. « Read the rest of this entry »

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