Science and art mix in two MAEP shows

From kira kira chiral (HD Video) by Ryuta Nakajima
From kira kira chiral (HD Video) by Ryuta Nakajima

Duluth-based Ryuta Nakajima's "UMWELT"is part art exhibition, part science project. The title comes from German origin, meaning "environment," and describes how various species change their behavior depending on their surroundings. Nakajima has been researching the umwelt of cephalopods along with a group of scientists, and the result is an artistic exploration of the scientific phenomenon. 

DECOIKA by Ryuta Nakajima
DECOIKA by Ryuta Nakajima

Science and art have long had a deeply symbiotic relationship, from the physics of the great pyramids, to the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Artists have looked to science for inspiration, as well as for tools to create new forms, while in turn science has used art to communicate discoveries in a way that people can understand. 

Nakajima seems to employ both methods in the exhibition. He draws from the inspiration of umwelt cuttlefish to create beautiful pieces, and at the same time he illustrates a scientific phenomenon using art. 

Cuttlefish are sometimes called the "chameleons of the sea" in that they can change their appearance depending on their environment. Nakajima riffs on this idea by creating dozens of model cuttlefish in different styles, sometimes using outlandish colors such as hot pink, or crazy patterns, or ornamenting them with jewels. 

He also presents an intriguing set of prints, titled Amburghese di Cuore, that began as an experiment in which scientists removed cuttlefish from their natural environments and placed them in tanks on top of high-res images from the MIA's collection. The result is a wonderful dialogue between works of art and the cuttlefish; a perfect marriage of science and art.
Luma (Voronoi Cellscape) by Trever Nicholas
Luma (Voronoi Cellscape) by Trever Nicholas

Also included in Nakajima's show is a mesmerizing video, kira kira Chiral, which gives an intense view under the sea presented in a double image. The video features incredibly clear, focused shots that entice you to get lost in the beauty of the underworld life. 

Continuing on the science theme, the adjacent MAEP gallery presents Trever Nicholas's Luma (Voronoi Cellscape), an artistic interpretation of cells. The wall-sized installation, made Styrofoam, appears as something you might observe while looking into a microscope. 

Light shines behind the piece, which creates an incredibly beautiful play of light and shadow amidst the geometric shapes, and there's a lovely mirror effect on the floor as well. 


Ryuta Nakajima and Trever Nicholas

MAEP galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Artists' talk 7 p.m. Thursday,  August 15

Both shows run through September 29

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Minneapolis Institute of Art

2400 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404


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