Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Exhibit: SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES

SOLSTICES AND EQUINOXES: PAINTINGS BY LEAH WILSON

January 17 – May 14, 2017
Roger W. Rogers Gallery
Willamette University
Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center
900 State Street Salem, OR 97301
Hours: Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm

Winter Solstice, Leah Wilson.
In its measured and diligent investigation of minute, incremental changes in light levels at a specific site in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest over time, this series of paintings represents a seamless merger of art and science as it throws into high relief the pivotal role of change in ecosystems. It also examines the nature of perception, and the idea that by studying phenomena, we change them.

The genesis of the project lies in Wilson’s experience as an artist-in-residence at H.J. Andrews, a 16,000 acre long-term research site which is located in the Western Cascades east of Springfield, Oregon. During her residency, Wilson had the opportunity to observe scientists from Oregon State University’s Department of Forestry, who are currently in the 30th year of a 100-year log decomposition study.

The study involves deliberately placing a number of tagged logs in a wide variety of locations in and around the streams that run through the forest in order to test the effect species and size of logs have on decomposition and nutrient cycling processes. Wilson’s interaction with this research led her to realize that science in general, and ecology in particular, seeks to identify patterns (and changes in patterns) over time. It is therefore fitting that both in terms of process and product, the most evident element of the work would be repetition, rhythm, and pattern.

The selection of the solstices and equinoxes of a specific year for the collection of her “data points” connects the cycles in a specific place and ecosystem with much larger and more powerful astronomical cycles. In comparing the barely perceptible, incremental chromatic changes that occur over the course of a day with the large seasonal changes that occur during the course of the earth’s orbit around the sun, Wilson’s work underlines the universality of the forces and phenomena that affect her specific, chosen site.

While the careful, and even clinical attention to methodology, process, and detail might lead us to think that Wilson’s work is purely scientific, there is much more at work here than only a concern with science. Her work is also a symbolic and meaningful examination of the philosophical idea that change is the only true constant. Wilson points out that the nature of our senses and perception influences and changes the thing we study. She also demonstrates that the very act of studying something changes it. She explains her realizations in this regard as follows,
“Not only do our senses and brains edit information, and therefore the patterns and rhythms we perceive, but we have affected every environment and ecosystem on the earth, directly or indirectly, which also affects the way that we experience the patterns of change in the environment. Looking upstream from my location on the creek, the wild ruggedness of the old growth forest is apparent. But looking downstream is an abrupt intersection of wildness and human construction, a reminder of the way we alter our environment to fit our specific needs of that place.” 
Wilson was able to observe human interventions occurring at her site during the course of her one-year process. She explains that these human interventions affected the patterns and rhythms of chromatic change in the creek, and subsequently in her paintings. She elaborates as follows:
“Even environments that appear wild and untouched are still affected by human intervention: a road can change the speed and redirect water during a storm; national parks are highly managed to control plant and animal populations; fires are suppressed or started to achieve a desired environmental effect; and climate change affects ecosystems across the globe. I chose to observe this location on the creek because of the juxtaposition of wildness and the constructed environment created to observe and understand it. The act of observation changes the patterns that we observe, whether it is though what we construct, the instruments we use to perceive, or our own physical perceptions. …..” 
Leah Wilson is a Eugene resident and practicing artist. She obtained her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.

  -Andries Fourie (Curator, Roger W. Rogers Gallery)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pioneering artist/scientist rediscovered

"Maria Sibylla Merian, like many European women of the 17th century, stayed busy managing a household and rearing children. But on top of that, Merian, a German-born woman who lived in the Netherlands, also managed a successful career as an artist, botanist, naturalist and entomologist."
Read entire article here

Current art/sci exhibitions

Seeing Science
2017
Online
"Photography has long been a medium for communicating science to the public and for scientific investigation. Images shape our understanding of research and technology, as well as our place in the universe.

Seeing Science is a yearlong online project from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), with the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture (CADVC). Curated and produced by Marvin Heiferman, it’s a portal for the diverse roles and influences of the scientific image. 'Part of what interested me is, I started out doing lots of art and museum exhibitions, but what fascinated me about science imaging in particular is its consequentiality,' Heiferman told Hyperallergic. 'The active nature of images, the active role that images play in shaping culture, is what I think science images are doing more and more.'"
------------------------------------------

In A Time of Change: Microbial Worlds
February 3-27, 2017
Fairbanks, AK
"Microbial Worlds is the culmination of 16 months of collaborative work by visual artists, writers, and scientists on the topic of microorganisms. Microbes are the most numerous and diverse organisms on the planet; they include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae and viruses. While some cause disease and contribute to climate change, others are responsible for promoting human health, removing toxins from the environment, and maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Under the leadership of Leigh, artists met monthly for 16 months. With Leigh and other scientists, they learned about microbiology through lectures, laboratory activities, and field trips to Toolik Field Station, Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest, and the UAF trails to learn about mushrooms and to view microbes frozen in ice on Smith Lake. Artists were also loaned microscopes in support of their independent research. The artists interacted with over 30 scientists through the course of the program, ranging from infectious disease microbiologists to ecosystem ecologists."

Recent research on art at LTERs

From the authors...
-----------------------

Over the last 15 years activities at the art-science interface have grown within the US National Science Foundation-sponsored Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, a collection of 25 sites committed to long-term, place-based investigation of the natural world.

However, there is little empirical work on the value and effectiveness of this work. After launching a survey (n = 24, all PIs in the LTER Network) in 2013 to assess the values and challenges associated with arts and humanities in the LTER Network (Goralnik et al. 2015), which identified empathy as a meaningful potential outcome of this creative work, we conducted a follow-up analysis to understand:

  1. the relevance of empathy in the LTER Network; 
  2. the role of empathy in bridging arts, humanities, and science collaborations; and
  3. the capacity of empathy to connect wider audiences both to LTER science and to the natural world. 
Phone interviews with representatives from 15 LTER sites, as well as an audience perception survey at an LTER-hosted art show, found that arts- humanities-science collaborations have great potential to catalyze relationships between scholars, the public, and the natural world; cultivate inspiration and empathy for the natural world; and spark awareness shifts that can enable pro- environmental behavior (Goralnik et al. 2016).

This research demonstrates the potential for art-humanities- science collaborations to facilitate conservation attitudes and action in the Network and beyond.


Goralnik, L., Nelson, M.P., Gosnell, H., and Leigh, M.B. 2016. Arts and humanitiesinquiry in the Long-Term Ecological Research Network: Empathy, Relationships,and Interdisciplinary Collaborations. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, forthcoming.

Goralnik, L., Nelson, M.P., Gosnell, Hannah, and Ryan, Leslie. 2015. Arts and humanities efforts in the US LTER network: Understanding perceived values and challenges. In R. Rozzi, F.S. Chapin, J.B. Callicott, S.T.A. Picket, M.E. Power, J.J. Armesto, and R.H. May Jr. (EDs.) Earth Stewardship: Linking Ecology and Ethics in Theory and Practice (pp. 249-269). Springer, Berlin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Medical discovery by Leonardo confirmed

One of the basic tenets of this blog is that the artist is a pattern detector that can engage in basic discovery that can enhance science. Here's an example of a missed opportunity...

Leonardo da Vinci was the first to notice and characterise the human mesentery--an odd section of colon--in a drawing from about 1508. One of the first anatomical textbooks to include the mesentery was by the anatomist Henry Gray, in the first edition of the well-known medical textbook Gray's Anatomy. In this text, the mesentery was presented as a fragmented structure until 2016.

That change is because a 2012 paper on mesentery anatomy analyzed over 100 bowel sections, discovering that this part of the colon actually has a continuous spiral structure, rather than being a disconnected series of functionless bowel folds, as previously thought. Paradoxically, the sharp focus of surgeons prevented the big picture from emerging until now:
Even when performing open surgery on the intestines, the structure was hard for surgeons to spot. "When you operate on the right hand side, you don't really tend to see the left hand side and vice versa, if you operate on the left you just don't see the right."
This discovery opens up a new field of medical research to understand the function of this "new" organ.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

STEM to STEAM discussion on YASMIN

Yasminers

Announcing a YASMIN discussion beginning Dec 19

What does STEM to STEAM mean: New Ideas or Hot Moist Air ?

Moderator: Roger Malina
Discussants: Dimitris Charitos ( Greece), Guillermo Munoz ( Spain,
currently a nanoscience postdoc in Japan)

if you want to participate as an invited respondent- contact
rmalina@alum.mit.edu

As you know there is an international discussion on "stem to steam"
concepts and approaches for new art/sci/tech teaching and research
methods.  There is much debate and discussion on whether the ideas
behind STEM to STEAM are new in anyway, or whether the phrase is a
repacking of current work in a way to attract new funding ( for an
understanding the social and cultural processes at work in 'selling'
programs like stem to steam - on  a larger scale- see for instance
Patrick McCray's detailed book called The Visioneers: How a Group of
Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a
Limitless Future  http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9822.html   )

The US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine are
currently conducting a two year study to address  the higher education
part of the question:

Integrating Higher Education in the
Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/bhew/humanitiesandstem/index.htm

The European Union has initiated the STARTS (science technology and
the arts ) funding program:

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/ict-art-starts-platform

which seeks to address the innovation argument:

STARTS encourages synergies between the Arts and innovation for
technology and society by promoting the inclusion of artists in
Horizon 2020 projects.An increasing number of high-tech companies
assert that scientific and technological skills alone are not
sufficient anymore. In this context, the Arts are gaining prominence
as catalysts for an efficient conversion of science and technology
knowledge into novel products, services, and processes.

We are proposing a discussion on the YASMIN discussion list on
this topic on Drec 19-2016-all members of the yasmin community
welcome to participate



in our own School at the University of Texas at Dallas faculty members are
learning how to teach science and engineering differently using STEAM
approaches: eg http://www.utdallas.edu/atec/

eg:

Karen Doore:
Curriculum Re-Design: Computer Science for ATEC Students
Karen Doore will present an overview of curriculum for CS
programming-sequence courses for ATEC and will include student
projects showcasing top student works. There are significant
challenges and difficulties in attempting to teach complex technical
material to a diverse student groups, particularly when many students
question the premise that these CS courses provide value for the
effort that is required to learn the course content. There are
current efforts to re-design curriculum for these courses. She is
looking for feedback and suggestions that can further guide the
curriculum re-design efforts.

About Karen Doore

Karen Doore is a Senior Lecturer and PhD Candidate in the Computer
Science Department at UT Dallas. Her research focus is Computer
Science Education, with an emphasis on curriculum design for
Non-Majors. She earned her BS in Material Science and Engineering from
the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and an MS in Computer
Science with a focus on Intelligent Systems from UT Dallas. She
currently teaches required CS programming-sequence courses for ATEC
students, and has been working for several years as part of the
re-design effort for the curriculum of these courses. Her new
curriculum has an enhanced focus on computational modeling, so that,
in addition to learning fundamental programming concepts, students
learn how to model dynamic, interactive systems. One goal of this
modeling focus is to provide students with skills to design,
communicate about, and implement dynamic interactive programs, such as
games, animations, and design tools

Our school of Art Tecnology and Emerging Communication has also
announced 6 full PhD scholarships including STEM to STEAM creative
work and research.

for the YASMIN discusson we are interested in STEM to STEAM topics
in artistic work, art-sci-tech research, education and personal behaviour !!

Hopefully STEM to STEAM is not just vapor ware !

Roger Malina
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