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UCSC Norris Center Art/Sci Residency Program

The Norris Center for Natural History is soliciting proposals from scientific researchers (faculty, post-docs or graduate students) to work with a student artist who will create art inspired by the scientific research. The goal of the program is to fund and support creative communication opportunities for science research and student artist professional development.

The project can be to either complete a needed artwork for a specific research project or to collaboratively generate something new. Examples of projects could be an illustration of your research system or organisms to use in a publication or presentation; animations about complicated processes; communicating outcomes of your research to a wider audience; or collaborating to develop an open ended project with a student to create art inspired by your research in discussion with you. The collaborative approach often has fascinating and unexpected outcomes that lend themselves to further scientific inquiry  (such as growing artistic fungal cultures, building sculptures from research materials, designing sustainable approaches to environmental problems, creative GIS data mapping, printmaking for public outreach). To get examples of other art/science collaborative work, check out and OpenLab Projects & Workshops or you can discuss and brainstorm ideas with Norris Center Graduate Fellow Juniper Harrower. Student artists will have access to specimens and materials in the Norris Center for Natural History, as well as art studio space and access to the resources at OpenLab.

If selected, the Norris Center will fund the resident artist’s stipend ($1,500 max, which is approximately 75 hours of artist project time to be completed over the fall and spring quarters), and the materials needed to create the work. We require that you be actively engaged in this project. This means that you will need to meet with the artist at least three times, and that you provide ongoing feedback about the work as it is created. Student artists should gain an entry level understanding about the research and be able to explain it to others at a popular science communication level. Upon project completion we require a short summary of the project (2-3 paragraphs) and images to feature on our website.

To apply, please send an email to Juniper Harrower ( discussing in under 500 words the kind of project that you have in mind and an approximation of how many hours you think it will take. If your project is selected, you will have the opportunity to pick the artist you would like to work with from a pre-screened group of art resident applicants, or you can suggest a student artist. We are accepting applications now through January 19 and anticipate selecting three to four projects..

OpenLab welcomes Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA-CO2LA Ocean to the Sesnon Gallery at UC Santa Cruz

The Crochet Coral Reef project, by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring, responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash. Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft, and community art practice, the Crochet Coral Reef highlights not only the damage humans do to the earth’s environment, but also our power for positive action. The project constitutes an elegiacally beautiful, artistically complex, and socially powerful way to bring citizens together around a devastating ecological challenge—the survival of the coral reefs and marine ecologies throughout the world.

Dates: Fri, Feb 10, 2017 to Sat, May 6, 2017, Location: Sesnon Gallery, UC Santa Cruz, Hours:  Tuesday–Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m

The Crochet Coral Reef has been exhibited in art and science museums worldwide, including the Museum of Art and Design (New York), the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), the Hayward Gallery (London), the Science Gallery (Dublin), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC).

In addition to the exhibition Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA-CO2LA Ocean at the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery, related programming includes the creation of the UC Santa Cruz Satellite Reef, crocheted by UCSC students alongside faculty, staff and Santa Cruz community members. This latest addition to an ever-evolving wooly archipelago of crochet reefs worldwide, including Europe, Australia, Asia, and the United States, will be exhibited at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center beginning May 4, 2017. See for more details.

Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA-CO2LA Ocean and the UC Santa Cruz Satellite Reef are sponsored and co- organized by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences in partnership with the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. The Institute of the Arts and Sciences is part of UC Santa Cruz’s Arts Division. It is an interdisciplinary programming unit, which creates public exhibitions, public events, publications, and collaborations with faculty and students, aligning with UCSC’s teaching and research.

Sisters Margaret Wertheim (a science writer) and Christine Wertheim (a poet, writer and faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts) are co-founders of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles non- profit devoted to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics. The IFF is a “play tank” which develops artworks, exhibitions and programs that engage audiences in topics ranging from the physics of snowflakes to mathematical paper folding. Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery

The Sesnon Gallery encourages interdisciplinary discourse through the lens of the arts. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. It is closed for the university spring break March 25 – April 3, 2017. The gallery is located at Porter College, UC Santa Cruz and is wheelchair accessible. Admission is free, and metered or special event parking is available at Porter College. Group tours are available by appointment at (831) 459-3606. Please visit:

Please join OpenLab for “Dark Deleuze in the Dark” at UCSC

Andrew Culp’s Dark Deleuze (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) offers a radical reinterpretation of the theorist Gilles Deleuze that challenges today’s world of compulsory happiness, decentralized control, and overexposure. Arranged in a series of contraries, Culp’s cataclysmic politics exhorts us to kill our idols and cultivate “hatred for this world.”

“Dark Deleuze in the Dark” is a conceptual conversation conducted in the dark with Professor Culp that addresses themes from his work on interruption, un-becoming, and escape. In our age of ubiquitous connectivity, joy, and self-disclosure, how might darkness help us to cast a line to the outside? As Culp argued in a recent interview, “A revolution that emerges from the darkness holds the apocalyptic potential of ending the world as we know it.”

This event is organized by INTERVAL and hosted by OpenLab with support from Film & Digital Media, Digital Arts & New Media, and the Arts Division at UCSC. INTERVAL is a space dedicated to interdisciplinary play and experimentation of art practice and scholarship.

Refreshments provided.

Andrew Culp is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Emerging Media and Communication at the University of Texas, Dallas.

UCSC OpenLab & Sesnon Art Gallery presents: Black (W)hole exhibition

blackwhole2_openLabOctober 5 – November 23, 2016

Reception:  October 5, 4:30-6:30pm at the gallery

”Imagination is more important than knowledge.”—Albert Einstein

Workshop: Friday, Oct. 7, 1:00-5:00pm

Workshop application:  UCSC students apply to participate

Black (W)hole is an immersive exhibition experience designed by The Einstein Collective that combines the arts, data visualization and sonification, and astrophysics. Entering the installation, viewers step into a darkened gallery where a laser star field projects onto their skin. The visitor becomes immersed in a field of stars surrounded by the Einstein equations that were written roughly 100 years ago and predicted the existence of black holes. Through this sensory-rich experience, the viewer learns about black holes in a way that goes beyond visual simulations or descriptive words.

The Einstein Collective is a group of artists, scientists and educators from several universities. Members include: Sara Mast, lead visual artist; Jessica Jellison, architect; Christopher O’Leary, animator and visual artist; Cindy Stillwell, filmmaker; Jason Bolte, composer/sound artist; Charles Kankelborg, solar physicist; Nico Yunes, astrophysicist; Joey Shapiro Key, astrophysicist. A special workshop for UCSC students on ArtScience collaboration will be offered by artist Sara Mast and astrophysicists Joey Shapiro Key and UCSC Professor and OpenLab founder Enrico Ramirez-Ruuiz during the exhibition.

The Black (W)hole project uses data visualization of an extreme mass ratio inspiral (EMRI) with the aural data of gravitational wave frequencies in an experiential work of ArtScience. The visitor becomes immersed in a field of stars, designed by Physics Professor Charles Kankelborg from Montana State University (MSU), surrounded by the Einstein equations that were written roughly one hundred years ago and predicted the existence of black holes. This work engages mind and body in both historical and current gravitational wave astronomy, encompassing our current, 21st century level of understanding of the universe and expanding the viewer’s capacity to imagine and wonder.

Visitors can step into an animation of an extreme mass ratio inspiral—a small black hole being sucked into a supermassive black hole, which results in the emission of gravitational waves.Through this sensory-rich experience, the viewer learns about black holes in a way that goes beyond visual simulations or descriptive words. Lead Physicist Nicolas Yunes and Jason Bolte, a professor in the School of Music, both from Montana State University, took the supercomputer’s data that was used to create the animation and turned it into sound, a process called data sonification. The sound was then synchronized to a soundtrack for the animation, which was created by Christopher O’Leary from UCLA.  Astrophysicist Joey Shapiro Key, previously served as educational specialist for the Montana Space Grant Consortium and also contributed to the discovery of gravitational waves, was a scientific adviser to the project.

This installation comprises black hole animation, Transmutations (an experimental film created by Cindy Stillwell using encaustic paintings by Sara Mast, an associate professor of drawing and painting at Montana State University), and the actual Mast paintings.The Einstein Collective would like to thank the following sponsors:Montana Space Grant Consortium, Montana State University, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National ScienceFoundation.
This exhibition is sponsored by the University of California Santa Cruz, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Arts Division, Porter College, Institute of the Arts and Sciences, OpenLab, and the Barbara Walker Memorial Fund.

The Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery encourages interdisciplinary discourse through the lens of the arts. The gallery is located at Porter College, UCSC, and is wheelchair accessible. Admission is free and metered parking is available at Porter College. Group tours are available by appointment at (831) 459-3606.

Gallery hours:

Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 p.m.

Wednesdays 12-8 p.m.

Free and open to the public

OpenLab exhibit at Nightlife Live, California Academy of Science tonight, May 14th, 6pm

V e s s e l s

by Pellham Johnston and eve Warnock

Thursday, May 14th, 6-7:45pm, California Academy of Science, San Francisco, CA


Pellham Johnston and eve Warnock help kick off NightLife LIVE this Thursday at California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco with an exhibit in the garden for OpenLab!


In Vessels, water is used to visually and sonically represent biometric data. The visitor’s heart rate is measured by reading blood density in the fingertip, and transposed into a liquid sequence which travels through a tube in the gallery.

This sequence ends as drops onto a resonant steel drum, translating the sequence into sound. The water is collected in a reservoir for recirculation through the system.The visitors see their heart rates visualized in front of them, and can watch the patterns of their hearts as the sequences travel through the tube. This allows for time to reflect on their influences on these rhythms and how these sequences may change with changes in their emotional states.


Details here about NightLight:

Vessel Project Info

Please join OpenLab at the Maker Fair May 16th & 17th!


Maker Faire Bay Area 2015



Maker Faire is part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new! As a celebration of the Maker Movement, it’s a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Faire gathers together tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, food artisans, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. Makers come to show their creations and share their learnings. Attendees flock to Maker Faire to glimpse the future and find the inspiration to become Makers themselves.

David Harris, DANM Mechatronics and OpenLab artist is the SciArt Center’s featured member of the month

SciArt Center Featured Member of the Month


David Harris
Science Communicator, Theoretical Physicist, Digital Artist in UCSC OpenLab and DANM MFA program
Interview with Emma SnodgrasseYour portfolio evidences some seriously impressive polymathy! Can you describe briefly what being a ‘science communicator’ means for you?D: The idea of a science communicator has evolved significantly for me over the past 20 years. In the beginning it was akin to science popularizer or translator, but then as I became a journalist, I started asking slightly harder questions of science the institution. Over time and particularly as I have explored my artistic practice, I have come to much better understand the interaction of science in society and feel that there is room for much better dialogue between science and other parts of society (insofar as you can make distinctions between disciplines).

I believe that science has made quite remarkable contributions to society but that it still needs to be questioned in terms of the claims it makes, especially regarding ontology and epistemology. These are not incompatible but merely different aspects of a healthy interaction of science with other fields. To me, a science communicator ought to be exploring that interaction including the facilitation of communication between science and other fields, especially recognizing that both sides in the communication act need comparable stakes in the dialogue.

Too much communication is guilty of subscribing to the ‘deficit model’ in which people believe that others will become sympathetic to their cause if only they knew more about it. This has been shown time and again over the past decades to be a false belief. This false belief is true of most scientists, most artists, and most people in general. Instead of facts as the atomic elements of conversation, I think we need to think in terms of stories and questions as the foundations of what we do. What questions are we asking of nature and culture and how can the process of answering those questions help us to better understanding?


Still from “Three Body Problem” that references Op Art of the ’60s in a representation of three planets in orbit around each other in a donut-shaped universe. Image courtesy of the artist.

PictureA visitor sets off a sequence of light and sound upon interacting with “Neutrino Flux”. Image courtesy of the artist.

E: Your works combine theory, concept, and function in a uniquely straightforward way, resulting in varied entry points for your aesthetic. What do you see as being the role of aesthetics in your work?D: Aesthetics is a tricky term for those of us who originally trained as theoretical physicists! We had our learning infused with the concept of beauty applied to equations, models, and proofs. But we never really tackled anything beyond beauty. Aesthetics is a concept I’ve become increasingly interested in over time, though. A colleague and I have been talking about running a seminar on physics and aesthetics that explores these concepts in various frames.In terms of my own work, I am far more interested in the concept of the sublime, especially Kant’s mathematical sublime. Science tells us an awful lot about the universe that we can only understand through models and analogies. But over time, scientists manage to internalize a personal set of models and analogies that works for them and they start to believe they see truth. I am somewhat leery of that process and try to stay aware of the fact that so much of science is beyond our direct human experience that we have at best an approximate truth at any particular moment. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue scientific means to better the approximation, however! It does mean that there are other truths we have access to as humans.

So, for example, in my piece Neutrino Flux, visitors experience very different things depending on their incoming level of understanding about the science that the piece references (an experiment formed from a cubic kilometer of ice a mile under the surface in Antarctica). Visitors who don’t know much about the science will experience their body moving in space, making occasional interactions with other objects, and causing effects in that space. Their experience might be of beauty and intrigue as they discover the light and sound interactions they cause but perhaps they’ll also feel the displacement from everyday life to that of the clean, clinical nature of scientific exploration in the context of an under-ice experiment. Scientists might notice the buried references to the Antarctic experiment in the geometry, layout, dynamics, and sound of the installation. And from that knowledge deduce that they have taken on the role of the neutrino, an ephemeral, hard to perceive fundamental particle as they pass through the installation reflecting on the various infinitudes and infinitesimals reflected by the piece. One thing I don’t want to do is be too didactic in my presentation of science.

PictureCharlie’s Bear. The proximity sensing (RFID) guts of a teddy bear are inserted, ready to interact via sound with a child’s other toys. Image courtesy of the artist.

E: Digital art is a medium that seems particularly useful for the convergence of art and science. What has the role of technology been in shaping sciart for you?   
D: I am surprisingly uninterested in technology but fascinated by science. So for me, technology is merely a tool I use in the exploration of the questions that drive me. A lot of what passes for sciart (a term I find problematic at best and could write a lot more about) is about technology rather than science and I just don’t find it that interesting. I am interested in work that is credible to both scientists and artists and I just say thanks to the technologists who allow many of my pieces to exist.Now it is true that new technology allows us to think new things and some of those things are things I want to think. But, for me, technology is generally a path to getting there rather than a driver of questions. I tend to adopt technology rapidly and then try not to let the focus be drawn too much by it in my work. I’ve had people suggest to me often that I should expose the electronics embedded in much of my work as they find it aesthetically interesting, but to me it just detracts from the questions the work is really about. I think that is probably something I learned from journalism—don’t let the words get in the way of the concepts and message.

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