Tag Archives: science art

Introducing Banks’ Second Theorem

A neighbor recently opened an etsy shop to sell her paintings. She asked me a bunch of questions about the process, which I was happy to answer. Then she asked me the essential question: “How do you get people to find you on the internet?”

Getting people to find me on the internet (ohai!) is the central struggle of my career. It’s a constant battle that I’ve been fighting every single day, with some success, for the past five years. But of course I didn’t tell my neighbor this, because I didn’t want to scare her off. So I suggested she start by posting her new shop on her Facebook page. “Well, that’s the thing, I don’t do Facebook.” Twitter? Nope. Instagram? What? We didn’t even get to the idea of submitting work to blogs.

I had a sudden flashback to a conversation with another artist a few years earlier, who complained that twitter wasn’t working well for promoting her work. “I tweet a lot,” she explained, “But I don’t actually READ tweets.” Dear fellow artist,


This is not to say that twitter is the only way to go, or that artists have to spend as many hours a day on the internet as I do. They probably shouldn’t!


But really, selling online has a lot in common with selling offline. You need to put in some time. You have to get out there and forge relationships. You need to know who the players are. I’m going to call this Banks’ second theorem:*

If you want to sell on the internet, you have to be on the internet.

If you had a brick-and-mortar shop, you would know the other shopkeepers in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you? Well, if you have an online shop, the internet is your neighborhood. Get out there, take a walk every day, and say hello. Read some blogs. Read some tweets. Make some intelligent comments. Show other people the cool things you find on your walks. Then say, “here, have a look at what I’m working on.” Repeat.

*I’ll get to the first theorem later. My blog, my rules.

(originally posted on Artoblogica)

The Art of Science: Please Eat the Art

Molded chocolate castings by Jimmy Tang and Yuanjin Zhao

Molded chocolate castings by Jimmy Tang and Yuanjin Zhao

Here at the Finch & Pea, we are big fans of food, art and the scientific method. So when I saw this story about a couple of Media Lab interns at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and their quest to produce edible replicas of museum treasures, I knew I had to share it here. It’s worth reading the whole thing, so please click on over to the Met’s Digital Underground blog for more.

Tip of the hat to Hilary-Morgan Watt



The Art of Science: A Handful of Dust

Lucie Libotte, Dust Matters, Ceramic, 2014

Lucie Libotte, Dust Matters, Ceramic, 2014

Science is increasingly focusing on whole environments – ranging from our guts to the ocean – exploring how all the parts of a system work together to function in a healthy way. Lucie Libotte’s 2014 work, Dust Matters, now on exhibit at the Science Gallery in Dublin, creates art from one of the inescapable elements of our domestic environment – dust.

In a kind of “citizen sciart” project, Libotte had a group of friends in various areas of the UK collect dust from their homes. She then fired the dust as a coating on ceramic vessels, which look strikingly varied. Says the artist, “Dust Matters’ aim is to re-evaluate this ‘dirt’, and convey the value of dust as an indicator of our environment, showing how it reflects our daily life and traces our journey through the world.”

Libotte’s work is part of an exhibition at the Science Gallery called HOME\SICK: POST-DOMESTIC BLISS, which “looks at the meanings of home, from rubbish to robots and microbes to micro-dwellings, asking whether the changing nature of home is for better or worse.”

HOME\SICK, which runs through July 17, features the work of many other artists, scientists and designers, including the microbial bellybutton stylings of Finch & Pea friends Rob Dunn and Holly Menninger of North Carolina State University.

You can get lots more information about the show at the Science Gallery website.

Art of Science: Klaus Enrique’s Dmanisi Skull

Klaus Enrique, Dmanisi Skull, 2014

Klaus Enrique, Dmanisi Skull, 2014

Artist Klaus Enrique uses a wild array of materials to create his sculptures, many of which are inspired by the work of 16th century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. He’s made a Mona Lisa out of fruit, a Princess Diana out of flower petals, and even a super-creepy Darth Vader out of dead insects. But for you, my geeky friends, I’ve chosen this very special piece – The Dmanisi Skull, a recreation of one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 21st century – made from small, hairless rodent corpses.

The real Dmanisi skull is a 1.8-million-year-old intact skull excavated from the town of Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia in 2005.  Scientists studied the skull and several others found nearby for several years before publishing a paper in Science in 2013 that posited that several early hominid species were, in fact, all one species – Homo erectus.

It’s no surprise that a huge discovery that rewrote a chapter of human evolution would inspire a work of art. But why the hairless mice? Could they be a nod to our even older ancestors, the shrewlike insectivores from which all mammals evolved? Or was Enrique playing on the tradition of the Memento Mori by making old, dry bones out of flesh?

Because of the highly perishable nature of his materials, Enrique doesn’t display his sculptures, but rather photographs them and exhibits the photos. You can see many more of his works on his website. For some fascinating insights into the Dmanisi discoveries, I recommend this post by anthropologist John Hawks, who once held the real skull in his hands.

Art of Science: The Curious Craft of Growing Ears

Diemut Strebe, Sugababe, 2014

Diemut Strebe, Sugababe, 2014

Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh famously cut off his own ear. Now, another artist, Diemut Strebe, has made him a new one from tissue engineered cartilage. Strebe took genetic samples from Lieuwe van Gogh, a descendant of the artist’s brother Theo van Gogh, and created a new ear, titled Sugababe.

The harvested cells were grown onto a 3D printed scaffolding made to resemble the ear Van Gogh is to said to have cut off in 1888. The ear is displayed in a case containing a nutrient solution which could, in theory, last for years. Visitors to an exhibition in Germany last year could “talk to” the ear through a microphone which converted their voices into nerve impulses. (OK, sure, whatever. It can’t hear.)


Vacanti and Langer’s Mouse

Strebe is just the latest in a line of artists and scientists who have freaked people out by growing ears. The first were Robert Langer of MIT and Charles Vacanti of Harvard, who in 1995 succeeded in growing a pretty convincing-looking ear on the back of a mouse.  Although the ear represented a huge advance in tissue engineering, the undeniable creepiness of the image worked against it. Critics pounced on the mouse as a sign of the imminent arrival of human-animal hybrids and a bustling trade in body parts, even taking out ads in the New York Times to denounce the new technology. In fact, the technique has mainly been used to help children born with missing or underdeveloped ears and people who have lost their ears to fire or trauma.

Stelarc, Ear on Arm, 2006-

Stelarc, Ear on Arm, 2006-

The most famous engineered ear in the world resides on the inner arm of performance artist Stelarc. His ongoing “Ear on Arm” project began in 2006, when surgeons inserted a “biocompatible scaffold” under the skin of his left arm. Since then he has undergone numerous procedures to upgrade it.  In a 2012 interview with Wired, he noted “At present it’s only a relief of an ear. When the ear becomes a more 3-D structure we’ll reinsert the small microphone that connects to a wireless transmitter.” In any Wi-Fi hotspot, he said, it will become internet-enabled. “So if you’re in San Francisco and I’m in London, you’ll be able to listen in to what my ear is hearing, wherever you are and wherever I am.” (An update on Stelarc’s website indicates that the microphone was successfully inserted and used, but later caused a serious infection and had to be removed.)

Stelarc says his project “sees the body as an extended operational system,” a subject with obvious relevance in a world where we’re tethered to our smartphones day and night. Alas, his experiences with surgeries and infections indicate that, for most of us, keeping the tech on the outside of our bodies is a safer option. And the revulsion that has greeted all three of the artificially grown ear projects I’ve described indicates that society has no great longing to change that.