700 Million Miles an Hour and Other Phenomena


Session Title:

  • Data Visualization: Practice and Aesthetics

Presentation Title:

  • 700 Million Miles an Hour and Other Phenomena




  • I explore the sculptural, experiential and sometimes humorous possibilities of light and natural phenomena, often referencing devices from the history of science and optics in installations that include a machine for making rainbows, a camera obscura journey through the center of the earth, paranoid dinner-table devices based on a 17th c. Czech periscope goblet, an interactive computer/video rifle that references E. J. Marey’s photographic rifle of 1882 – and site-specific periscopes and camera obscuras.   Scientific visualizations and the devices that produce them (historical examples and contemporary innovations) have influenced my artwork and my teaching.

    Several sculptural and photographic projects explore time making devices, including water clocks and sundials.  Several works involve tracing shadows over regular intervals: at the Roman Forum in Italy; over lunch in Rome, Shanghai, London, Berlin, Sydney, Seattle; at the Palo Alto Red Barn; and in the desert by moonlight. Skylight Aperture Sundial, a public art commission with the Seattle Public Library and the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs tracks solar noon within the Montlake Public Library.  Also directly relevant to this proposal is 2 Dog Dial, a playful use of the heliodon and the Leech Barometer (in homage to the Tempest Prognosticator by George Merryweather, 1851).

    Along with presenting examples of these devices and artworks – and of collaborations with a physicist, an astronomer and a meteorologist, I will discuss two related courses: Art and the Cosmos – Making Giant Sundials co-taught with Astro-Physicist Woodruff Sullivan and Black Holes, Grey Matter and White Cubes: Visualizing Science, a studio art course which considers the artistic possibilities of scientific representation and instruments.