Solar Equation by Rafael Lozano -Hemmer is a public art installation consisting of a simulation of the sun, 100 million times smaller than the real thing. Lozano-Hemmer, a Mexican-born artist with a degree in physical chemistry, creates installations which allow viewers to interact with them via technology. Solar Equation, commissioned by the Light in Winter Festival in Melbourne in 2010, features the world’s largest spherical balloon, custom-manufactured for the project, which was tethered over a public square and animated using five projectors. The solar animation on the balloon is generated by live mathematical equations that simulate the turbulence, flares and sunspots that can be seen on the surface of the Sun, producing a dynamic display that never repeats itself, giving viewers a glimpse of phenomena observable at the solar surface. The project uses SOHO and SDO solar observatory imaging from NASA. Using a downloadable iPhone or iPad app, people may disturb the animations in real-time and select different fluid dynamic visualizations.
Lozano Hemmer aims to evoke the scientific as well as the metaphorical power of the sun. He says of this piece: “While pertinent environmental questions of global warming, drought, or UV radiation might arise from the contemplation of this piece, Solar Equation intends to likewise evoke romantic environments of ephemerality, mystery, and paradox.”
More at the artist’s website.
Pablo Garcia Lopez, “39 Brains Forming a Flower”, 2012
The work of Spanish artist Pablo Garcia Lopez, who holds a PhD in Neuroscience, explores the role of visual metaphors in scientific research. Inspired by the work of pioneering neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934), Garcia Lopez has been working for several years on a project called “The Cortical Garden.”
The collection of mixed media works was directly influenced by Cajal’s idea that “the cerebral cortex is similar to a garden filled with innumerable trees, the pyramidal cells, that can multiply their branches thanks to an intelligent cultivation, sending their roots deeper and producing more exquisite flowers and fruits every day.” (Cajal, 1894)
Garcia Lopez’s sculptures and prints explore the themes of sprouting, branching, budding and pollinating, in the brain as in a garden. The artist says that “Cajal’s romantic and naturalistic visual metaphors inspired his projects against the current mechanistic models that have dominated science during the latest centuries, helping to mechanize the body and the mind.”
Much more at the artist’s website.
A seamless blend of art, science, nature and technology, this sculptural installation for the new Nature Research Center, a part of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, is an absolute stunner.
The piece, a collaboration among engineers, artists and designers, explores the “abstraction of nature’s infinite complexity into patterns through the scientific process, and through our perceptions. It brings to light the similarity of patterns in our universe, across all scales of space and time.”
A “ribbon” made of 3,600 tiles of LCD glass 10 feet wide and 90 feet long, the sculpture winds through the five-story atrium of the research center. Animations are created by varying the transparency of each piece of glass.
A program of twenty patterns plays continuously on the tiles, ranging from clouds to rain to colonies of bacteria to flocking birds to cuttlefish skin to pulsating black holes. The programs were created through a combination of software modeling of natural phenomena and actual footage. A soundtrack accompanies the animations on the ribbon, giving visitors clues to the identity of the pixellated movements. In addition, two screens show high-resolution imagery and text revealing the content on the ribbon at any moment.
The video is well worth your four minutes. I can’t wait to go to North Carolina for Science Online 2013 and see it in person.