Scientific Visualizations and Mixed Realities at the Art/Science Nexus

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Visualisation, and Representation in Art and Science

Presentation Title:

  • Scientific Visualizations and Mixed Realities at the Art/Science Nexus

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Abstract:

  • Art/Science
    What is it, one might ask, that motivates an artist to position their practice at the art/science nexus — a random moment of eccentricity perhaps; or a more considered alignment with a discipline reputed to involve a systematically organised body of knowledge? Conceivably it could be argued that, if science is defined as knowledge gained by the study of the physical world, aware and interested individuals fall within the category of “scientist” in the manner of the erstwhile “natural philosopher”.

    Today however, the disciplines of art and science are habitually regarded as divergent. Realistically speaking, neither artists nor individuals customarily possess the acumen or have access to the high-end technologies with which the contemporary scientific researcher is, by definition, equipped. I entered the rarified laboratory environment with the aim of exploring scientific constructs and research data from the perspective of a visual artist. My methodologies synthesised groundbreaking models and evolving outcomes; and I developed innovative collaborations which fore-grounded the artist/researcher as an active participant at the core of the experimental processes.

    It is pertinent that one of my scientific collaborators described this pioneering construct as ‘something quite other’; a hybrid entity navigating the spaces of what might be regarded as a mixed reality that represents more than the sum of its parts. The three part ‘vital force’ series of artworks: Temporal Intervals, Wave Writer and Machina Carnis share an open-ended approach, empowered by the discrete use of technology. This enables the viewer to engage with the artworks from the position of a participant who brings them to life and completes them through his/her interaction.

    Corporeality
    I have explored contemporary constructs of “humanness” by shifting the activity of viewing from a transparent relationship of meaning and expression to an immersive encounter with the “self”. My art/science research projects have examined expressions of corporeality and moments of perception which exceed habitual boundaries. Both ‘Temporal Intervals’ and ‘Wave Writer’ probe the ambiguity of data flow and bodily “presence” through the interplay between the real-time installation and remote Internet access. Via the feedback loops of the informational mode — through the space-time separation enabled by computer and communications networked forms of dispersal and interaction — the artwork experience becomes more participatory and widely accessible. The divergent characteristics of digital technologies lead to a deliberation on contemporary notions of virtual realities that are redolent with the so called ‘worlds within worlds’8 that revolutionised perceptions at the advent of the microscope.

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