photo credit: Sabin+Jones LabStudio
I was recently at the annual AAAS meeting in San Diego, the largest scientific conference in the world. After days and day of symposiums and discussions (some of which make you want to gnaw off your own ear), I walked into the exhibit halls hoping for a respite. In a corner of the enormous room, I found the winners of the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge. I was simply blown away. Self assembling polymers arranged around a green sphere showing the need for all of us to work together to save the planet. 75,000 cable zip ties illustrating lung endothelial cells pushing against and pulling on the protein matrix that surrounds them. The works were absolutely astounding and illustrated the benefit of artists adding their perspective to often difficult-to-understand scientific concepts.
The growing blend of art and science is not lost in our local community. Next week, two events in particular illustrate the trend. On Wednesday April 7th, Swissnex San Francisco hosts a discussion on Visualizing Science focusing on how artists can enrich scientific concepts and results. The panel discussion features a scientific illustrator, marine biologist, and exhibit developer from the Exploratorium. The scientific illustrator, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, spent years drawing mutated insects near fallout areas of nuclear power plants, including Chernobyl. Even if I tried, I couldn’t have made up a stranger idea for an art project. The results are stunning and will appear in WIRED’s May issue. For those unfamiliar with Swissnex, it is a venue for the discussion of science, education, art, and innovation – highlighting the ingenuity of Switzerland and the Bay Area.
On Sautrday April 10th, see art and science merge in celebration of Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit around the Earth. The annual Yuri’s Night Bay Area is a blend of space science, interactive art, and popular music all in the cavernous Moffett Field Hangar. This year’s art installations include the Raygun Rocketship, a retro 100′ tall rocketship which debuted at Burning Man and the Serpent Mother, a 180′ animatronic fire breating snake. Worry not science fans, as there will be over 100 exhibits featuring an outdoor planetarium and even Steve Wozniak speaking on the early days of Apple. Music acts include Common and Les Claypool along with dozens of other performers.