Friday, June 12, 2009

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] Art and Atoms: Fusion and Fission

Dear All,

To continue on the very fascinating posts sent earlier by Patrick and
Jean-Pierre, I would agree that ITER (or any other nuclear power plant
if possible) should have an art residency program. To continue also on
Roger and Guillermo's posts asking for artists to help visualizing
scientific concepts or "help society to understand new horizons", I
would like to ask the following question: is art the only possible
solution to mediate between science (the inaccessible, the invisible,
the un-namable) and the outside common/contemporary world, and out of
the regular informational channels?

I am aware that this question is biased, as the question rather asks
for a definition of the purpose of art itself. From an art point of
view, I would say that the challenge resides less in the opacity of
the scientific concepts or in the formulation of hopes for future
technological achievement than in the invisibility of radioactivity
itself (or perhaps in the expression of the cultural impact of
scientific discoveries'). As Brandon very interestingly stated, he
was 'interested' in the fact that he could not see, feel or fear
radiation. In that sense, it is interesting to find so many sound
pieces on the topic!!

To come back to ITER itself and after reading the way in which Roger
described it, it seems to be a fantastic project, definitely bringing
great hopes for a cleaner (safer??) source of energy put together by
an international community of scientists. But as Guillermo and Lucy
pointed out, and as we discussed before, nuclear science has its own
lot of controversial experiments that renders it difficult to ignore,
making it difficult to become purely enthusiastic. Perhaps is it too
early too, without knowing the outcome of such a large and ambitious

However, taken within a wider context - physics at large – then more
"positive" answer perhaps can be expected. (but again, I find
problematic to draw dualistic categories in which to put artworks.)

Within the larger context of physics then, I just send you the
abstract of this Leonardo article on scientist/artist collaboration.


"Illustration of Particle Symmetries

György Darvas

and Tamás F. Farkas

The paper presents remarks by a physicist and a graphic artist on an
artwork series produced by the artist. They associate the colors and
twists represented in these graphics with the properties of subatomic
particles—their structures and connections. The authors use graphical
representation to visualize the inner structure of atoms, the
classification of quarks and the metaphorical names of abstract
physical properties. No textbooks that make visible these basic
properties by means of art are currently available. Artistic
visualization brings these "mysterious" physical objects closer to
the understanding of students and the general public and leaves
physicists better able to discover new secrets of the internal
structure of quarks and their properties."

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