The Art of Science: Robert Cannon’s People of Earth

Sculpture by Robert Cannon
Sculpture by Robert Cannon

Robert Cannon refers to his sculpture technique as terraforming, a word used by scientists to describe the process of creating habitable, “earth-like” environments in places like the moon or other planets.  Cannon’s terraforms are much more, shall we say, down-to-earth. He builds them, often in the shapes of people, out of hollow shells of ferro-cement, adding pockets of earth and plants in the places where the pieces connect.  They look a bit like androids whose spaceship landed in the Garden of Eden.

Cannon says that his sculptures grow and change with the seasons, and reflect the natural and social qualities of their environments.  “They would over-grow themselves if left to return to nature, or wither and die if locked away in some storage room, or remain balanced if cared for in a healthy environment.”

You can see (and buy) more of his work here.



The Art of Science: Cold, Hard Data in Warm, Soft Wood

Adrien Segal, Snow Water Equivalent, 2012
Adrien Segal, Snow Water Equivalent Cabinet, 2012

Data are hard. Snow is cold. And yet artist Adrien Segal chose wood, a warm, yielding material, to visualize snowpack data, to stunning effect.  This design of this remarkable, functional sculpture, Snow Water Equivalent Cabinet, is based on 31 years of snowpack measurements recorded by a SNOTEL sensor at Ebbetts Pass in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. The SNOTEL (snowpack telemetry) network, operated by the USDA’s National Water and Climate Center, calculates the amount of water contained in the snowpack of mountains in the western US. The data are used to forecast water supplies in the face of a changing climate.

Each drawer of the Snow Water Equivalent Cabinet represents one year of data. Segal explains:

“The sculpted plywood front is a three dimensional graph of the amount of water in the snow-pack at any given time during the water year, showing specifically the first snowfall, peak amount of water, and final snowmelt as changes occur from year to year. The size of each drawer is directly related to the amount of water in the snowpack, the smaller the drawer the less water stored, and the less storage space available in the drawer.”

The California-based artist says that her work integrates scientific research, data visualization, aesthetic interpretation, and materiality in an attempt to “to reconcile scientific conventions of reason and fact with an intuitive sensory experience.”

You can see more of Segal’s work at her website.

The Art of Science: Andrew Kudless’ Intelligent Design

Chrysalis III, 2012
Chrysalis III, 2012

Chrysalis III, a sculpture by Andrew Kudless and MATSYS Design, is a piece with elements to appeal equally to the naturalist, the computer geek and the art snob. The work is based on nature, specifically the self-organization of barnacle-like cells. He explains, “The cells shift and slide across the surface as they attempt to find a more balanced packed state through the use of a relaxed spring network constrained to the surface.” Continue reading “The Art of Science: Andrew Kudless’ Intelligent Design”

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