Scientists and artists have a lot in common. You have to be creative to embark down either path, first of all, and both pursuits require a certain amount of observation skills. As John Schuerman, gallery director for Instinct Gallery, explains it, you can have mold growing in a petri dish, but it doesn’t mean anything unless someone’s around who can observe what’s happening and discover penicillin. Similarly, artists take their observations from the world around them to create works of art.
Art and science often has a reciprocal relationship. While it might be rare that art aids in scientific discoveries, it’s certainly true that artists often help communicate scientific ideas to non-scientists. Think about artists tackling issues such as climate change, for instance, or companies such as Black Label Movement who have investigated ways to transform physics concepts into dance. And, of course, science has always been at the service of artists, providing new chemistry or technology for artists to employ in the creation process.
In “Telescope” at Instinct Gallery, artists use science as inspiration and method. Whether they’re trying out centuries old experiments or using new technology to explore the possibilities of nature, it’s a show that gets you thinking.
One of the most impressive works comes from artist Brad Kaspari and Michael Bazzett, whose Clepsydra (which translates to "water clock" from Greek) takes a design from the 15th century that was never built. The clock’s wheel holds water in different compartments, which drip down to the adjacent compartment. The wheel turns slowly, and in doing so pulls a lever that lifts a poem up, revealing it piece by piece as time passes. It’s a pretty glorious working clock that envelops you in the room.
Another fun piece comes from artist Jantje Visscher. Her Kuiper Belt takes its name from the region of the solar system beyond Neptune, which is said to house many comets, asteroids, and other heavenly bodies. Visscher bases the work on microwaves that exist in outer space, which are the primary evidence that we have to support the Big Bang Theory. The work reflects the light above it, creating a beautiful interplay with shadows that move as the material gets pushed around by the air in the room. Beyond any scientific concepts that went into the creation of the piece, it’s a lovely wavering object to observe.
Kevin Lair gets into technology with his work, which includes photographs of tree stumps from burr oak trees along with 3D modeling images that map out the formations within the tree. While you might not understand the science of it, the images he comes up with are breathtaking.
Not all of the works are quite so experiment-like. Works by Phil Rosenbloom and Gregory Euclide, for example, offer more philosophical takes on science and nature respectively, while Paula McCartney coyly documents the mingling of natural and man-made forms found in the Brooklyn Zoo.
In all, it’s a fun and clever exhibition of work that might get you thinking and observing the world around you a little more.
IF YOU GO:
Through November 14
Instinct Art Gallery