Category Archives: The Art of Science

The Art of Science: Transparency vs. Openness

David Spriggs, Profile, Type A - Briefcase, 2014, Glass

David Spriggs, Profile, Type A – Briefcase, 2014, Glass and Lucite

Transparency, both physical and metaphorical, is the central preoccupation of David Spriggs’ artwork. In his 2014 exhibition, Transparency Report, he took classic 21st-century images of personal possessions inside a security scanner and turned them into haunting and gorgeously crafted art.

Spriggs creates his artwork by layering  images in space – in this case by engraving multiple sheets of glass which are displayed in spaced layers in lucite cases to reveal the three-dimensional forms.  While we generally link the idea of transparency with openness and honesty, these works reveal a darker side of transparency, in which individuals give governments and corporations the right to literally see through us and our personal belongings.

Spriggs will further explore the intersection of optics and surveillance in an upcoming show entitled Prism – referring to both the optical apparatus and the NSA surveillance program – from January 29 to May 9 at Montreal’s Arsenal Contemporary Arts.

Installation view from David Spriggs, Transparency Report

Installation view from David Spriggs, Transparency Report

LEGO Scientists in “New Students In The Lab”

The Art of Science: Adorable Art that Misses the Mark

Pandas on Tour in Hong Kong, summer 2014

Pandas on Tour in Hong Kong, summer 2014

I love pandas. I mean, I really love pandas. An analysis of my browser history over the year since Bao Bao was born would reveal an embarrassing amount of time logged onto the National Zoo’s PandaCam. When my daughter was very little, she was semi-seriously convinced that I loved Tai Shan more than I loved her. So you would think that I would also love Pandas on Tour, the long-running traveling exhibition by French sculptor Paulo Grangeon.

I don’t.

It’s not that it isn’t appealing. Grangeon’s papier-mâché pandas are completely adorable. If they came to DC, I would go see them, coo over them, and take pictures of them.

Here’s my problem with Grangeon’s Pandas – there are just too many of them.

Let me explain.

The Pandas on Tour project was launched in 2008 in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations as a simple way of showing just how endangered pandas are. The 1600 panda sculptures roughly correspond to the number of pandas that remain in the wild. Over the past 6 years, the pandas have traveled to more than 20 countries, where they’ve provided fabulous photo ops everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to the National Theater in Taipei.

Pandas at Taipei's National Theater

Pandas at Taipei’s National Theater

I mean, look at them in that theater, or on that square. They’re so cute, and there are soooooo many of them! That’s what I feel seriously muddies the intended conservation message of this project. It’s hard to feel like the panda is disappearing when you’re surrounded by an enormous crowd of pandas.

Maybe I’m a grouch, but I can’t help thinking that while the words about this exhibition say “Look how few pandas there are,” the pictures say, “Look how many pandas there are.”

And that seems like a bit of a #PandaFail



The Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research for LEGO Researchers

The Art of Science: Rosemary Mosco Explores Quirks of Nature

From Quirks of Nature

From Quirks of Nature by Rosemary Mosco

Rosemary Mosco is a naturalist, illustrator and science communicator who has seamlessly merged her scientific and artistic interests into a range of projects, most notably her Bird and Moon science comics.

Mosco’s academic background as a field naturalist, her obvious love of nature in all its forms, and her sunny sense of humor and cheerful style combine to create informative content that feels effortless.

Her work is featured in an exhibition called Quirks of Nature, running through June 8 at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY.  The exhibition pairs her comics and illustrations with fossils, taxidermy, live animals, and more. Mosco provides commentary on her drawings and the inspiration behind them – from working at a bird rehabilitation center as a kid to suffering through an awkward first date – while experts explain the hard science behind each comic.

If you can’t make it to Ithaca, you can see more of Rosemary Mosco’s work at her website and support her work via Patreon.