Touching, hearing, seeing science... in works of art
What does a quantum simulation or space time look or even sound like? Artists teamed up with EU-funded researchers to bring complex scientific and mathematical concepts to life in totally creative ways.
© grandfailure #188747757, source: fotolia.com 2018
From ancient Greece to the Renaissance era, science, philosophy and the arts shared a common goal of enlightenment. As technology has advanced, a knowledge gap has developed between the scientists and creators who develop innovations and the wider population who use or benefit from them.
The EU-funded FEAT project explored the role that art plays in science and innovation processes to help bridge that knowledge gap. Six leading international artists were hosted within future and emerging technology (FET) projects through fully funded embedded residencies to explore, engage and communicate these new areas of research. During this period, artists acquired new competencies in scientific techniques which they later used to create artworks able to demonstrate complex scientific concepts to lay audiences.
The works range from visual displays of quantum physics and demonstrations of gene regulation to underwater robotics, carbon capture, exascale computing and living bio-art exhibits. They have been used as showcases during media campaigns, international events and workshops, culminating in a final exhibition and symposium on art, science and technology at Bozar in Brussels in September 2017.
The sounds of simulation
FEATs mission was to create fresh perspectives on how FET results can be used for social innovation and global development. The artworks act as a creative conduit to communicate science to more diverse audiences and stakeholders in a meaningful way.
Quite often science is complicated, note Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, UK artists who participated in FEAT. But art can provide a gateway for engaging people in scientific research and ideas.
The duo spent nine months in Finland learning everything they could about quantum computing technology, a promising field in data security and other aspects of digital communication and encryption. The artists chose to graphically represent the sound waves produced by instruments during quantum simulations.
The art-science exchange brought two-way benefits, according to some of the scientists who took part in FEAT. The close contact with artists taught the scientists to view their own work from different perspectives and opened their eyes to the benefits of communicating their work to wider audiences. And by catching the imagination of the public and the media through tangible and thought-provoking artworks, FEAT also raised awareness and enhanced take-up of FET results in novel and visionary fields of research..