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Contemporary Connections

Saturday 1 April – Friday 12 May

What happens when art and science connect, when artists and scientists meet and collaborate?

The arts and sciences have long been regarded as separated disciplines, but they share a fascination with making sense of the world around us and our place in it. Both, albeit in their own ways, seek answers to the same fundamental questions: who are we, why are we here, and where are we going?

On its own, science can have limited scope to tackle societal change, but in an increasingly connected world there is growing recognition of the complementarity between the sciences and the arts and humanities and the potential for creativity and innovation that these connections can generate.

More and more artists are inspired by scientific ideas and concepts, and many scientists are using art to depict and explain the (often obscure) ideas that they grapple with every day, with artistic thinking influencing science and scientific methodology reaching into the arts.

Through residencies, ongoing collaborations and the sharing of ideas, artists take inspiration from real-world research and transform it into experiences that engage, enthrall and raise some profound questions about our relationship with our world and with each other.

This exhibition – co-curated by Edinburgh International Science Festival, Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science – celebrates some of the very special works created when artists and scientists get together, showcasing collaborations and interpretations of real data that provide new windows onto some fascinating and intriguing areas of science.

Scroll down to browse a summary of the contributing artists or click the link below to download full exhibition information.

Download full exhibition information

CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS

The outcome of a residency with the Extreme Light group at Heriot-Watt University, Lily Hibberd’s Black Hole Horizon takes you on a 3D-sound journey into a black hole experiment, while the kinetic sculpture Slow Light takes the problem of the unearthly speed of light and transforms it into a tangible entity, seeing the fastest thing in the universe travel at snail’s pace in a fluid medium.

Also arising from a Heriot-Watt residency, Hannah Imlach’s project From the Dark Ocean Comes Light relates two areas of biological research; the ecology of Scottish deep-sea cold-water coral reefs and new techniques that have revealed a world of fluorescent molecules inside cells. Her sculptures reference historical and contemporary optical processes used by scientists to observe these inaccessible environments, offering an immersive glimpse into underwater and microscopic worlds.

Stephen Hurrel’s Beneath and Beyond: Seismic Sounds brings together art, technology and nature to create a unique seismic sounds adventure. Tectonic shifts and on-going movements beneath the Earth’s surface are the source for this immersive live sound and visual artwork.

A collaboration between Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina and C-EENRG at Cambridge University, Sebastian Verea’s Sounds of the Anthropocene immersive sound installation aims to raise awareness of humankind´s unprecedented footprint on the Earth. Translating data from stratigraphic markers of the Anthropocene into sound, it expresses the state of our planet in the shape of music stemming from the Earth’s changing condition.

Forensic audio analyst and artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s award-winning Rubber Coated Steel testifies to the relationship between technology and power. In 2014 Abu Hamdan was asked to work on audio files of the shootings of Nadeem Nawara and Mohamed Abu Daher in the West Bank of Palestine. These files, which proved that the boys were shot by real bullets and not rubber ones, are the starting point for a work about aesthetics, politics and the violence of sound and silence.

Artist Louise Mackenzie researches the metaphysical aspects of making life in the context of biotechnology, focusing on the insertion of our thoughts into living cells through the creation of transgenic bacteria that house a question posed by the artist within their DNA. The Genophone presents custom-built software that converts text to DNA and then to speech and, in doing so, speaks aloud the predicted mutation of phrases according to an evolutionary algorithm.

A collaboration between artist Simon Sloan and communicators and scientists at The University of Edinburgh, Team Shrub’s Exploring the Art in Data will create an interactive discussion of the untapped potential of data to convey both artistic and scientific meaning, including new work exploring Arctic environmental change.

CO2 occurs naturally in the environment, but humans have caused atmospheric levels to increase rapidly, impacting upon our climate. CO2_Live is a collaborative work by Daniel Budinov, Patrick Hickey, James Howie, Jim Jack, Ryan Lewis, Adam Linson and Iain Robinson that draws attention to this. It incorporates a carbon dioxide sensor, situated next to the street, connected to LED panels displaying real-time CO2 levels at the top floor of Summerhall’s TechCube.

The Preuve par l'Image/Science Exposed image contest, organised by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Association Francophone pour le Savoir (Acfas) in Quebec, challenges participants to tell science stories through vibrant and exciting images. Devoted exclusively to images of scientific research, in all fields of study, this selection of images brings science to vibrant, visual life. 

In association with Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science. Hannah Imlach and Lily Hibberd’s work was funded by a Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence Grant.

Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource, the University of Cambridge; Universidad Nacional de San Martin; Instituto del Artes Mauricio Kagel 

Image: I touch therefore I am, François-Joseph Lapoint, Universite de Montréal; Concours La preuve par l’image (2016) organised by Acfas

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