Category Archives: The Art of Science

Art of Science: Frozen Fractals All Around

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A Sierpinski Triangle by Simon Beck

In the wake of snowstorm Jonas, the east coast of the US has been consumed with snow math – counting up the number of inches that fell, the miles of roads plowed, and the days of work lost – but that’s basic arithmetic compared to Simon Beck’s advanced snow mathematics.

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A Mandelbrot Set in progress

For more than a decade, Beck has made elaborate designs in snow, mainly in the French Alps, using only snowshoes and a compass. He started out making mandala-like circular shapes, but moved on to much more complex designs over the years. Beck told Discovery News that he started incorporating fractal patterns into his work after reading James Gleick’s book “Chaos: Making a New Science.”

Each image takes him up to 11 hours to make, as he walks 25-30 miles to make a design of about 100 meters square.  Beck says that he started making snow art mainly as a form of exercise, but it has now become his life’s work. You can see much more at his website.

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Sierpinski Circle by Simon Beck

Art of Science: Jantje Visscher’s Kuiper Belt

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Jantje Visscher, Kuiper Belt, 2015, Light Sculpture

The Kuiper Belt is a vast region of space filled with “small bodies”, icy remnants of the formation of the Solar System made of compounds like methane, ammonia and water. It is also home to everyone’s favorite dwarf planet, Pluto.

Artist Jantje Visscher made a light sculpture inspired by images of the Kuiper Belt and the idea of microwaves dancing in outer space, created when the Big Bang occurred. The piece is made from drawings etched into silvery Mylar sheets that bounce light from an overhead fixture onto the wall.

Simple, beautiful and dazzling, Kuiper Belt invites viewers to reflect on the existence of celestial bodies almost unfathomably old and distant, now brought closer by both art and technology.

You can see more of Jantje Visscher’s work here.

Art of Science: Anatomical Art, in So Many Words

 

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Beat Poetry, Digital Print, Stephen Gaeta

When cardiologist Stephen Gaeta was finishing his PhD on cardiac arrhythmias, he decided to do something more creative than just hang his diploma on the wall.  He used the words of his dissertation as create an image of an anatomical heart, which he signed with a segment of his own ekg. He later redesigned the heart using an 1809 monograph on cardiology and renamed it Beat Poetry. Since then, he has continued to create images from classic scientific texts, including an eyeball, a transgenic mouse and a set of lungs (below). The lungs feature the text of the 1628 treatise Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus (An Anatomical Exercise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Living Beings) by William Harvey. You can read more about his work and buy prints at Street Anatomy.

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Airway, Digital Print, Stephen Gaeta

Microbial Musing

Have you ever wondered what makes Michele Banks tick? Nature Microbiology did. So, they asked her. You can read their interview with Michele here and gaze upon her lovely artwork for their homepage here.

Nature Microbiology: When did you first become exposed to scientific images?

Michele Banks: I started doing watercolours about 15 years ago. I was mainly working in pure abstraction, just playing with colour and with the properties of the paint. One of the things I love to do is wet-in-wet technique, which gives a ‘bleeding’ effect. I showed some of my wet-in-wet work at the Children’s National Medical Center here in Washington DC about 10 years ago, and they told me they liked my work because it looked like things under a microscope.

We hope the interest in the overlap of science and art will be a theme that continues throughout future Nature Microbiology issues – also open access, gender balance in publishing, shying away from bogus impact factors. etc. etc…

Art of Science: Joe Black’s Ways of Seeing

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Joe Black, Ways of Seeing, 2013, hand-painted test tubes

UK-based artist Joe Black uses thousands of small objects – ranging from toy soldiers to plastic flowers to chess pieces – to create his large scale mosaic works. Black has made many portraits of famous people, including David Bowie and Barack Obama. But my favorite is Ways of Seeing, a huge eyeball made of 15,000 painted test tubes.

Black says that while he will use practically anything that is small enough to build large images and create vast tonal effects, he is careful to select a medium that not only meets those requirements but is also relevant to the subject he’s depicting.  The connections between the image of eye, the scientific connotations of the test tubes and the idea of art and science as ways of seeing are all fairly clear. His reasons for also building his portrait of Bowie out of test tubes remain slightly more obscure.

You can see more of Joe Black’s work at his website.

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Detail view of Ways of Seeing