Month: October 2012

Millennia Of Stargazing At ‘African Cosmos’ Exhibit

by  October 28, 2012

Untitled, by South African artist Gavin Jantjes, is one of the works in the "African Cosmos" exhibition.

An ongoing exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art asks visitors to consider the connections between art and science — and how they each attempt to explore the why, when and how of our existence. “African Cosmos: Stellar Arts” illustrates how the stars and planets we see in the sky have been influencing African art and ritual for generations.

This delicately painted Egyptian mummy case was created around 3,000 years ago for a singer in the temple of the sun god Amun-Re.

National Museum of African ArtThis delicately painted Egyptian mummy case was created around 3,000 years ago for a singer in the temple of the sun god Amun-Re.

One of the first things visitors see as they enter is a meticulously painted Egyptian mummy case from about 1,000 years B.C. It was made for a female singer in the temple of the sun god Amun-Re.

Further along, there are masks, some of them 20 feet tall, elaborately carved from a single tree. Exhibit curator Christine Kreamer says the masks create a symbolic bridge between two realms when they’re used in rituals.

“We have the connection — sky and earth made by some of these masquerades that literally soar to the heavens when they are performed,” she says. That connection resonates throughout this exhibition — the experience of looking up at the sky and wondering what it all means.

“Keen observation of the heavens from the very earliest moment of humankind have informed the way people are thinking about their place in the world, and thinking about those age-old questions of who we are, what is our purpose here, what are our next steps,” Kreamer told visitors to the exhibition opening. She said those questions are addressed by the art in the exhibition.

Dr. Mae Jemison, the first female African-American astronaut to travel into space, told her audience that art and science help us tie the world together. “A thousand generations before me, one of my ancestors looked up at the stars, reached out her hand, couldn’t touch them, and then decided to track the movements of the heavens,” Jemison said. “That person … figured out the stars were moving in relationship to one another.”

Jemison told the audience that the exhibition shows not only that art and science spring from the same font of human creativity, but also that space exploration is as old as humanity. “Imagine the incredible insight, observation that had to happen. That’s how space exploration started — that’s when it started,” Jemison said.

This rainbow serpent was built from recycled gasoline cans by Romuald Hazoume, an artist from Benin.

National Museum of African ArtThis rainbow serpent was built from recycled gasoline cans by Romuald Hazoume, an artist from Benin.

But it’s staggering to see how far that exploration has gone. A worldwide team of scientists is working on a project called the Cosmic Evolution Survey, or COSMOS. They’re mapping a tiny sliver of the universe in which they’ve found more than a million galaxies. A computerized reconstruction of their work is on display here.

South African artist Karel Nel is the project’s artist-in-residence, and created a soundtrack for the film from the crickets he hears outside his Johannesburg studio. “They do, in a sense, evoke night as one lies out looking at the stars, but that is kind of [a] metaphorical sound for deep space,” Nel says.

The voices of the universe are also on display here, in a section called “Star Sounds.” Deborah Stokes, the museum’s curator for education, explains that astrophysicists at the European Southern Observatory used oscillations — variations — in the light pulses coming from the stars to create sound waves. “They take the oscillations and the data, and they create — they speed up those oscillations so … we can hear them actually within our range of hearing,” she says.

ESO European Southern Observatory/YouTubeThe science of star seismology allows astrophysicists to turn star vibrations into audible sounds. This is the star Chi Hydrae.

A major aim of the exhibition is to show that Africans have been studying the cosmos in a sophisticated way for centuries. Curator Christine Kreamer points out that a thousand years before Stonehenge, one of the world’s oldest celestial calendars existed at a place called Nabta Playa on the edge of the Sahara.

Benin artist Romuald Hazoume says it’s important that visitors understand that that level of scientific sophistication is just as present today. “It’s very, very important to be here, and to show people; we are not poor in Africa,” he says. Hazoume contributed a massive structure to the exhibition — using recycled gasoline cans, he built a rainbow serpent swallowing its tail.

South African astrophysicist Thebe Medupe says the work on display illustrates how humans in the past integrated their knowledge of art and science. And, he says, the exhibition can help solve a problem shared by both Africa and America. “We are still struggling to get black South Africans into science and technology,” he says. “An exhibition like this one goes a long way in exciting young people about science.”




Calling all artists, designers, techies and ocean experts – join us!

Join us Saturday, October 27, for the Blue Trail Design Jam Competition – an open-call invitation to artists, designers, tech experts, marine experts and others who care about ocean sustainability for a high energy day of concept generation and prototyping for Blue Trail.

Up to five concepts from the competition will be selected for possible commission.

The Design Jam will take place at the waterfront offices ofAdaptive Path in San Francisco.

Register here.



A Spectacular Opportunity for PR and Logo Visibility

With 5 million spectators expected along the San Francisco waterfront next fall, Blue Trail offers sponsors a wonderful opportuity for PR and logo visibility.

To see how your company can get involved, contact Lisa Zimmerman, Executive Producer, at 415.302.8195 or




Ocean Experts to Speak at Design Jam

Blue Trail welcomes three outstanding ocean experts as presenters and advisors at the Design Jam.

Dr. Terrie Williams: Marine Biologist at UC Santa Cruz’sInstitute of Marine Sciences and Co-founder UCSC Center for Ocean Health

Barbara Benish: Advisor to the United Nations Safe Planet Campaign, Director of Art Mill and an environmental artist

Sarah-Mae Nelson: Ocean Literacy and Conservation Specialist at Monterey Bay Aquarium


Introducing Blue Trail’s Advisory Board

Our growing Advisory Board features experts from diverse disciplines.

•Jessica Appelgren, Saatchi & SaatchiS
•Barbara Benish, U.N. Safe Planet Campaign
•Brianna Cutts, Sibbett Group/ Exhibit Design Advisor
•Shawn Lani, Exploratorium*
•Bart Shepherd, California Academy of Sciences
•Scott Snibbe, Snibbe Interactive Artist

*organization for identification purposes only


What is Blue Trail?

A non-profit initiative, Blue Trail is a trail of ten interactive art-design-science-tech installations to be located along the San Francisco waterfront during the final races of the America’s Cup (September 2013), each designed to awaken people to the mystery, beauty and fragility of the world’s oceans. Five million visitors and a global audience will be focused on the San Francisco waterfront during this time.

Blue Trail is produced by 7Story in collaboration with UC Santa Cruz’ OpenLab, an art-science center for interdisciplinary problem-solving, and independent curator Laura Cassidy. Blue Trail is a member of the Intersection for the Arts Incubator Program.



Critical Play, Mary Flanagan – Art, Games & History

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 – 2:00pm

Dark Lab (Rm. 108) – Digital Arts Research Center (UCSC)
Presented by:

Art Department/Arts Division/Digital Arts and New Media

Co-sponsored by OpenLab and Games and Playable Media

Free and open to the public.

Panel Discussion 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities Director, Laboratory, Dartmouth College

Brenda Laurel, designer, researcher, teacher & writer. Since 1976, she has been a pioneer & entrepreneur in interactive media, human computer interaction & human-centered design research.

Susan Laxton, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, UC Riverside

Moderated by Kate O’Riordan, UCSC Associate Professor in Art, research areas include digital cultures, biotechnology, science media, artscience, & bioart.

 GAMEPLAY 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Heather Logas, UCSC Computer Science lecturer and DANM alum with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, UCSC Associate Professor of Computer Science, DANM Program Chair, co-Director UCSC Expressive Intelligence Studio, and Jennifer Parker, Associate Professor and Chair of the Art Department, Executive Director of UCSC OpenLab, and DANM Mechatronics Research Group.



Region: Where science and art collide – News – The Prague Post

The latest experiment at CERN is a new art residency in Linz
Posted: September 26, 2012

By Mimi Fronczak Rogers – For the Post | Comments (0) | Post comment

Region: Where science and art collide

Courtesy Photo

Julius von Bismarck, right, CERN’s first artist in residency, teamed up with physicist Dr. James Wells, left, a unique partnership that resulted in the creation of Versuch unter Kreisen.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and a shining example of international cooperation. Scientists from around the world come here to use its unmatched facilities, including the Large Hadron Collider, to unravel the mysteries of matter.

This hotbed of science straddling the French-Swiss border northwest of Geneva has recently launched an entirely different type of experiment: to see what kind of synergy emerges when art and science collide.

CERN has established a new prize and artist residency program as part of a cultural partnership with the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria. The idea behind the Prix Ars Electronica Collide@CERN is to take digital creativity to new dimensions by matching scientific minds with artistic imagination.

This exciting new annual prize and residency offers an unparalleled opportunity for artists working in the digital domain to collaborate with Europe’s top scientists. The prize is open to artists in all fields using digital means to make and/or present their work. For anyone feeling especially energetic and inspired, the previously announced deadline to apply for the second annual prize and residency has been extended until Oct. 3. Details about application criteria can be found at

This March, the program welcomed its first artist in residence, Julius von Bismarck. For the first two months at CERN, von Bismarck worked with the research physicist James Wells, his appointed mentor. The second part of the residency was a one-month stay at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, where he developed the work inspired by his stay at CERN. Throughout the process, the public has been able to follow and contribute comments to the creative dialogue between artist and scientist on a blog.

After its presentation at CERN this week, the work that grew out of this unique partnership, Versuch unter Kreisen (Experiment among Circles), will be showcased at the next Ars Electronica Festival, to be held in Linz late next summer.

Von Bismarck, who is currently based in Berlin, has been gaining recognition over the past several years for his technically sophisticated work that often incorporates humor and elements of social commentary. Born in 1983 in Breisach am Rhein into a family of particle physicists related to Otto von Bismarck (1815-98), he was raised in Freiburg, Berlin and the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He is currently completing his studies with the renowned artist Ólafur Eliasson at the Institute for Spatial Experiments of the Berlin University of the Arts.

Von Bismarck had already captured the attention of CERN’s partner in this new creative venture. In 2008 he won Ars Electronica’s top honor, the Golden Nica, for his work Image Fulgurator. He scooped up a second Ars Electronica Award in 2009 for his Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus.

“It is certain that the many ideas that were seeded during his time at CERN will be seen and become artworks for many years to come,” said Ariane Koek, the organization’s cultural specialist.

Mimi Fronczak Rogers can be reached at