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Feb 24, 2014



James Turrell was part of the Southern California Light and Space movement in the late 1960s like Eric Orr, the artist behind Electrum. 2013 was a big summer for Turrell with concurrent shows in Los Angeles at LACMA, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX, and the Guggenheim in NYC - and this was his first solo show in New York City since 1980.

For a time (around the turn of the millenium, after completing the Electrum documentary) I was obsessed with Turrell’s Roden Crater project, and made queries about helping to document the creation of this monumental and notoriously secretive work. At the time it seemed like a huge undertaking that would never see completion; now it is nearly finished and open by invitation to generous patrons of Turrell’s work.

L: Portrait of Turrell by Chuck Close on the cover of New York Times Magazine (June 20, 2013) via; R: Roden Crater, satellite photo USGS

This Fall, when a friend called with an extra ticket to the sold out James Turrell Symposium at the Guggenheim I jumped at the chance to go -- the show was to come down in less than a week. After securing our symposium tickets, we were met at the museum’s side entrance, VIP style, and taken to see the Turrell works. The works we saw, First Light Turrell’s aquatint renderings of light cubes, were so luminous that on first impression I thought there actual lightboxes lit from within; only upon closer inspection I was amazed to find that they were paintings. They were sublime. Wow. In two adjacent galleries there were light works, one a light projection into the corner of a room Afrum I (White), and another projected onto a flat wall. On our way down the ramp, there was a long line to see Ronin a very tall light work maybe two stories tall that juxtaposed walls to create the perception of an entire wall being ajar. We wandered through Aten Reign in the Guggenheim rotunda on our way to the symposium taking place in the basement level auditorium.

We took in talks by scholars of art history, religion, and modern art as they discussed the way Turrell’s life experiences have influenced who he is as an artist, and the rituals and philosophies of light and perception apparent or inherent in his works. Nat Trotman, Co-Curator of the Turrell exhibition, moderated a conversation among the three presenters.

I got to experience Aten Reign for myself while my pals waited in the long line (45 minutes) for Iltar in the highest exhibition room. I found a spot on the chaise bench that circled the perimeter of the room and got comfortable. The light gradient shifted so slowly it was initially imperceptible. The light intensity and color gradient change with the passage of time. 

Aten Reign in the Guggenheim rotunda, September 2013

Iltar was to be experienced in small groups of fifteen or less, hence the long wait. The room was quite dim. There was a rectangular piece on the wall which initially seemed like a grey rectangle painted on the wall, but was in fact, an unlit opening to another room. So really it was nothing. But we waited so long to see it so I stayed for a while. It made me think of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but I did enjoy it very much.

Amazingly, I got another chance to see Turrell's work at his retrospective at LACMA over the holiday break while visiting with family and friends in LA. It was a much more extensive show than that in NYC, and more experiential. For one piece, we donned booties and entered a large room transformed into a color wash chamber with a group.

Unbelievably, on our day to visit the Turrell show at LACMA, there had been a couple of cancellations and we got the hottest tickets in town -- sold out for the entire duration of the show: Perceptual Cell and Dark Matters. Each 20-minute appointment to see these works (individually and in pairs, respectively) is spoken for; most of the museum staff hasn't even had the chance to experience these works.

Turrell's Perceptual Cell is reminiscent of the isolation tank (aka sensory deprivation tank) popular in the 1960s, developed by John C. Lilly. The attendants (sporting A Clockwork Orange-like black derby hats with their white labcoats) give you the option of color wash or strobe effect (I chose strobe). After signing a waiver, you remove your shoes and lie on the narrow bed, with noise cancelling headphones on. An emergency panic-button is placed in your hand. Like a drawer, the bed with you on it, is rolled into the chamber, sealing the opening. Once in the chamber, the strobes created fractal-like mathematical patterns in my vision, almost inside my head it seemed. I was uncertain whether my eyes were open or closed. After a time, the assault of the strobing multi-colored light on my perception was dizzying. Here, the results of a googleimage search for 'Sierpinski carpet' can help me share what I experienced (minus the small headache.)

"Fast Fourier Transforms, Diffraction Patterns, and J" by Ned W. Allis (, Jeffrey P. Dumont (, Flynn J. Heiss (, Clifford A. Reiter ( Source:

In contrast, Dark Matter is quiet and calm: you grope your way into a pitch dark chamber (using the railing as your vision is useless). The chamber is anechoic (dampened for noise so there is zero sound). You feel for a chair and settle in to gaze at nothing, again unsure whether your eyes are opened or closed. What is vision in complete darkness? After a while a faint glow emerges in your peripheral vision. 

While I've tried to describe these works by James Turrell, its cliche but words really don't do justice. These are perception-altering works which must be experienced. I chalk it up under the category of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and my mind's eye revisits them often. 

The show at LACMA is in its final days - coming down and the end of April 2014 - definitely go see it if you get the chance. (I personally plan to visit The Color Inside, Turrell's Skyspace at UT Austin this summer, as my timing to see Turrell's Meeting at MOMA PS1 has always been off...)

And I'll close with a Hollywood anecdote: an artist friend of ours has a friend who works at LACMA. One morning, early, before the museum doors opened to the public, Brangelina were spotted climbing into the Perceptual Cell together. 

James Turrell page on
James Turrell website
 by Peggy Weil
Roden Crater website (implements a changing color wash effect - check it out!)
Doug Aitken INTV w Turrell in the NY Times T Magazine Website
Visit The Pace Gallery London James Turrell: Recent Works through April 5, 2014

TOP OF PAGE: Two separate shots side-by-side looking up toward the ceiling in the middle of the Guggenheim Museum in New York during James Turrell's light exhibition Aten Reign. Photos by Adam Shankbone. From

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CommentsCategories Art UK US World Tags turrell, james turrell, roden crater, art and space movement, eric orr, electrum, guggenheim, LACMA, peggy weil, perceptual cell, dark matters UT Austin, Color Inside, Skyspace, Pace, London

Jun 10, 2013



Collaborations between artists and scientists are certainly not a new phenomenon, particularly when the aim is to make scientific data accessible or visual for a public - among other forms, scientific illustrations are a perfect example. Recently, however, resources aimed at developing art and science collaborations have expanded exponentially, from the STEM to STEAM movement and UCSC’s OpenLab, both aimed at bringing art and science together in educational environments, to Story Collider, which brings the art of storytelling together with scientists and science experiences, and Artisans Asylum, which provides space, resources, and education on craft and technology from crocheting to building robots. Other groups support and promote research projects and artwork, like the Australian Network for Art and Technology and the NYC-based Art Science Research Laboratory. Cynthia Pannucci’s Art/Science Collaborations Inc (ASCI) provides an online forum for people interested in science/art collaborations to post calls for work/projects, conferences, and meetups.

New to the scene, Richard Lowenberg’s Scientist Artist Research Collaboration (SARC), based in New Mexico, aims to bring together artists and scientists for somewhat structured collaborative explorations. Scientist/artist collaborators can take part in seminars, a commissioning program, a festival, or interactions through social media and publishing. A similar project, based locally at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Oceans at MIT, Synergy produces science communication through its work. The results of their first collaborative project, the amazing Ocean Stories, is currently showing at the Boston Museum of Science. The project stretches beyond the museum, with the hopes of expanding the impact of the science and art. Synergy’s website includes short videos about each collaboration project, information about the artists and scientists, and links to articles and media coverage. Their new social media presence, too, is aimed at allowing them to network beyond their impressive local contacts, so that they can share the results of the fantastic collaborative art and science projects more broadly.

Watery Depths from collaboration between Bryan McFarlane and Jill McDermott.

For the scientists involved, taking part in the Ocean Stories collaborative project has meant that their research has now been communicated through the work itself in whole new ways and to brand new audiences. Not only do these projects take the research out of the lab and the field and into the museum, the gallery, the public space, but it also puts that research online through videos and articles on Synergy’s website, Facebook, and Twitter. Both scientists and artists benefit from these collaborations. Certainly participation in interdisciplinary projects helps scientists connect with the public, enabling them to disseminate their research through art, which can open up whole new channels of expression and interpretation. Artists, can learn about science and our world through these collaborations, and flex their communication skills in helping bring the research to their work.

The innovative modes of communication which result from art and science collaborations promise fascinating breakthroughs in scientific research, art and design, science communication, and public awareness and engagement with each of these fields. We can’t wait to see what comes next!

Photo Credit, TOP OF PAGE: Great Egret (Ardea alba) John James Audubon. From

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CommentsCategories Art Boston SciArt SciComm UK US World Tags Sciart, Boston, Art, Science, Collaboration, Ocean Stories, Synergy, Museum of Science, WHOI, STEM to STEAM, UCSC, OpenLab, Story Collider, Artisans Asylum, ANAT, SARC, ASCI, SciComm, Social Media, Art Science Research Laboratory #sciart #oceanstories #scicomm #science #STEMtoSTEAM #art #WHOI #MIT #MuseumofScience #Boston #collaboration

Mar 20, 2013



The incredible and often ephemeral work of sculptor Andy Goldsworthy is deservedly legendary. Goldsworthy uses geometric shapes like spheres, spirals, squares, and circles, as well as archeological structures like cairns and arches, to create mind-blowing works out of, say, leaves of grass, rowanberries, intertidal sand, icicles, sticks. Goldsworthy’s interest in natural elements and materials lends itself to a study of time, decay, climate, and season. As his pieces are frequently melted, blown away, washed away, or eaten by wildlife, photography and film have been important throughout his career as a means to document both the process of creation as well as the way the work weathers after Goldsworthy is finished with it.

The Arches NZ, Gibbs Farm (2005) Photo Credit: Murray Robinson

Years ago, Andy Goldsworthy created a site-specific work for Gibbs Farm in New Zealand where I have done some work. The Arches (NZ) is a series of eleven freestanding stone arches marching to sea, and it somehow reminds one of the Loch Ness monster. The sandstone hails from a quarry near Goldsworthy’s home in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, which was also the home of art patron Alan Gibbs’ ancestors prior to their emigration to New Zealand. The Arches are held together by nothing but gravity and the principle of a perfectly-designed keystone, although very sturdy foundations were built to support them permanently. When I visited Gibbs Farm to film for the New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor and Lightning Dreams: The Electrum documentaries I finally got to experience The Arches for myself. The work is at once natural and man-made, complementing its environment while being shaped by it. The work is dynamic and constantly changing depending on the season, water level, tides, light, and time of day. It seems to provide a framework or lens through which one can observe nature with heightened appreciation.

The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, located (near us!) in Lincoln, MA, has been working with Goldsworthy since 2009 to commission a permanent outdoor sculpture for their collection. The Artist proposes to build the sculpture Snow House. To support the proposal, the DeCordova ran an exhibition of photographs and films of Goldsworthy’s other work with ice and snow, as well as frequent screenings of the brilliant documentary film Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. The museum has just recently celebrated the completion of this capital fundraising campaign and is moving forward with planning the installation.

Goldsworthy’s Snow House sculpture will be built into the bank of a lake, and it is modelled after historical structures which were used to preserve through the summer ice cut from local ponds. Into this structure a large snowball will be placed. Each summer, the structure will be opened to reveal what is left of the snowball, which will eventually melt once exposed. Then, once winter comes again, the staff of the DeCordova and community members will build another snowball from the first significant snowfall of the year, which will be closed in the structure to repeat the process the following year. This cycle of permanence, degeneration, and interactivity brings several different issues to the fore: a relationship with the seasons, a potential attendance to the effects of climate change, historical processes of ice-cutting and preservation, the passage of time, and a reliance on both the natural world and the community to perpetuate the cycle of artistic creation.

L: R:

Much of Goldsworthy’s work to date with ice and snow has been extremely temporary. It will be fascinating, then, to see how Snow House plays across both permanence and cyclical decay. For instance, Goldsworthy frequently lies down just as it begins to rain or snow, creating rain and frost shadows which last long enough to be photographed and immediately appreciated before disappearing. Likewise, he has held his hand against thin, spring ice, melting away a handprint in the sheet before the sheet itself disappears with the sun. Some works depend on the melting away of snow or ice for their gradual effect: like snow heaped into a line in a field and left to thaw slowly; snow balls stained with dye from beech nuts, thawed on paper, and dried, leaving pools of stain on the paper; snowballs brought indoors (for instance at the Old Museum of Transport, Glasgow) or placed on display outdoors during summer (in London); and, finally, snow slabs, carved to let the light shine through before they melt in the sun.

The science behind Goldsworthy’s work and techniques is in many ways more intuitive than exact. Though Goldsworthy rarely talks specifically about the science or math underlying his work, his father was a mathematics professor, and his brother, with whom he lived, studied a biology course at university. In his works, Goldsworthy uses natural materials, works with colors and shapes found in nature and in the landscape which surrounds him, and relies on time and decay to add to as well as detract from the shapes and images he leaves behind. Sand sculptures rely on the relentless tide for timing, excitement, and erosion. Patterns of leaves and sticks on river or stream surfaces are pulled by the current to create only vaguely-predictable visual delights. The fact that Goldsworthy returns time and again to similar structures, patterns, and shapes, as well as materials, shows a (perhaps unconscious) alignment with practices of experimentation and redesign familiar to scientific researchers.

Part of Goldsworthy’s process involves a familiarity with space and terrain, with the entire environment of the place he has chosen to work. This includes local and available materials, histories, and seasons. He often explains that he discovers and develops the work through the materials available as they exist on the day; spending more time in a space allows him to deepen his relationship and build on previous work done there. Goldsworthy was invited to visit the DeCordova Sculpture Park during the winter of 2010. Through research and subsequent visits, he developed the project which he then proposed. For the DeCordova piece, he incorporates the changing season into his design, along with historical structures, and historical uses of natural materials like ice and lake landscapes.

We now look forward to the chance to closely observe and perhaps experience the development and creation of a Goldsworthy sculpture at the DeCordova Museum. We are ridiculously excited to welcome this permanent-ish work from Goldsworthy to our neighborhood, and can’t wait to watch as he builds it, and as it melts, shifts, and regenerates each season.

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Stay tuned to ASKlabs blog for upcoming posts on the (Harold “Doc”) Edgerton Center at MIT, as well as coverage of the grand re-opening of the SF Exploratorium Museum by a special guest blogger!

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CommentsCategories UK Art Boston Environment Events March 2013 SciArt Tags Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides, Gibbs Farm, Alan Gibbs, Decordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Alberta Chu

Feb 5, 2013

“New Form at the Farm” SCREENINGS at The PEM - Feb. 2. 2013

“New Form at the Farm” SCREENINGS at The PEM - Feb. 2. 2013

Another awesome day for “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1”. The Peabody Essex Museum was a popular destination on Saturday as the closing day of the "Hats" exhibit concurred with the opening day of the museum’s new exhibit, "Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India After Independence" and our screening.

A big THANKS to everybody who came along for our Saturday screenings at the Peabody Essex! We hope had as much fun as we did. Our audience included families, filmmakers, design geeks and of course the South End hipsters rolled in, which made for lively Q&A discussions!


Gibbs Farm is indeed visible on Googlemaps satellite photos and the Kapoor sculpture is quite prominent: (See if you can spot the Serra!)

View Larger Map

We especially want to thank Jennifer Evans, Manager of Programs at the PEM for putting these fantastic screenings together. 

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events February 2013 Social Media UK US World

Jan 31, 2013

Outdoors with Anish Kapoor

Outdoors with Anish Kapoor

ArcelorMittal Orbit

This weekend’s screening of “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1 at the Peabody Essex Museum chronicles Kapoor’s largest permanent outdoor sculpture to date at Gibbs Farm in New Zealand. But Dismemberment Site 1 isn’t his only large outdoor piece. In fact, the sculptor is well known for his large public works. We’ll share a few here, from the simple and remote The Eye in the Stone in the northern reaches of Norway to the mammoth and controversial ArcelorMittal Orbit, part of London’s 2012 Olympic Park.

Many of Kapoor’s outdoor sculptures are what he calls “Mirror Objects.” The most famous of these is Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “The Bean,” in Chicago’s Millenium Park. Though Kapoor dislikes the work’s nickname, it is an extremely popular sculpture, drawing tourists and film crews alike. In fact, several Chicago-set films have used Cloud Gate since its completion, including Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011), The Break-Up (Peyton Reed, 2006), and The Vow (Michael Sucsy, 2012). The work itself is shaped like a bean, and is highly reflective on all sides. Its shape allows visitors to pass under the sculpture, adding to the interactivity of the already reflective piece. On Kapoor’s website you can find some cool plans and drawings for the work, too.

Other Mirror Objects include the various Sky Mirror pieces. These are both permanent and travelling pieces, concave mirrored discs often placed at an angle or hammered irregularly so that they both reflect and distort. These can be found permanently at The Nottingham Playhouse in England, and The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Other versions have appeared in exhibitions at the Rockefeller Center in New York, Kensington Gardens in London, and the Brighton Pavilion Gardens for the Brighton Festival in England. Last year a similar mirror object was attached to a wall at the Storm King Art Center, and one is currently in place as a part of Koelnskulptur 6 in Germany.

Dismemberment Site 1, while similar to several of Kapoor’s other works (mostly indoor works, such as Marsyas at the Tate Modern 2002) is another beast altogether: huge and red and constantly changing in relation to perspective, it both complements the famous mirror objects and doesn’t merely reflect the landscape: it transforms it. Find out for yourself at Saturday’s screenings, 11am and 2:30pm.

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CommentsCategories Art DocFilm Environment Events January 2013 SciArt Social Media UK US World

Jan 30, 2013

Art Docs for the Tots

Art Docs for the Tots

It's never too early to get your children interested in innovation, collaboration, engineering, and the design process! The scale, playfulness of design, color, and the aspiration of great art all make “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1” a great documentary for kids. It’s showing this Saturday at 11am and 2:30pm at the Peabody Essex Museum, so the timing is perfect too! To gear up for these screenings, we thought we'd share other documentaries about art that the whole family can enjoy.

Legendary documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (also hailing from Boston) have a slate of films about the large-scale outdoor works of artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude. From “Christo’s Valley Curtain” (1973) to “The Gates” (2007), the collaboration between filmmakers and artists has meant that many of these temporary works, and the struggles behind them, are preserved for future audiences. While Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1 is a permanent installation in the landscape, “New Form at the Farm” likewise captures the difficulty of getting artwork of such proportions built. Other films in the Maysles/Christo vein are “Running Fence” (1978), “Islands” (1986), “Christo in Paris” (1986) and “Umbrellas” (1994). For older kids, Albert Maysles also made a more involved film about the planning and building of LA’s Getty Center, called “Concert of Wills: Making the Getty Center” (1997).

If your kids are into design and architecture, they would also love “Eames: The Architect and the Painter” (2011), a film directed by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey about designers and artists Charles and Ray Eames, narrated by James Franco, which is streaming on the PBS website.

Or, if you think your kids might be more interested in watching other kids achieve artistic heights, there are some great films about children in the arts. “First Position” (2011) is a film directed by Bess Kargman, documenting a handful of entrants in the Youth America Grand Prix, a ballet competition. The film focuses on the stories of the competitors, and the hard work and sacrifices necessary for these kids to follow their dancing dreams. “Mad Hot Ballroom” 2005, directed by Marilyn Agrelo, is another film about kids dancing, this time in the New York based city-wide elementary school ballroom dance competition.

Films are definitely a fun way to introduce children to art and artists. Even more so, films about huge,  temporary, or faraway artworks allow kids to experience the process of thinking up great art, and then making it happen. Show your kids how to think big, following Anish Kapoor’s example. We hope to see you Saturday at the Peabody Essex Museum for our screenings of “New Form at the Farm”; admission to these screenings is FREE with museum admission. Hope to see you there!

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Boston Central Listing - Family activities - includes some reviews:

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CommentsCategories Art DocFilm Environment January 2013 SciArt Science UK US World

Jan 28, 2013

Dismemberment Site 1: A Collaboration between Artist and Engineer

Dismemberment Site 1: A Collaboration between Artist and Engineer

How exactly did Anish Kapoor manage to build Dismemberment Site 1? This question is part of the appeal and fascination of the huge sculpture, and our documentary short film “New Form at the Farm” helps to explore the process of conceptualization and creation.

Kapoor and Gibbs worked closely with engineers and architects who could take their dramatic ideas and make them material. Kapoor’s frequent collaborator, Cecil Balmond, is himself an exhibited artist, and is well known for his collaborative work on large sculpture and sculptural architecture projects. In fact, after Marsyas and Dismemberment Site 1, the two won a bid to build the permanent sculptural aspect of London’s 2012 Olympic Park: the result, an interactive, massive (tallest sculpture in the UK), and intriguing sculpture called the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Balmond, educated in Sri Lanka and the UK, worked with reknowned engineering, architecture, and design group Ove Arup Group for many years before moving away to form his own Studio, based in London and Columbo. His work combines geometrical concepts of spatial organization and natural occurrences such as fractals, with high-level architectural design. In fact, while with Arup he founded the Advanced Geometry Unit, dedicated to research and design.

Certainly having a brilliant designer and engineer on his side like Balmond has helped Kapoor to develop and realize his visions. In fact, huge sculpture of this kind almost always requires the work of engineers. As the engineer interviewed in “New Form at the Farm” explained, there’s not much practical structural difference between a car park and Kapoor’s sculpture. But as we know, the results are wildly different!

"New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor's Dismemberment Site 1" screens twice at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA on Saturday, February 2nd, 2013. The first screening is at 11am and the second screening at 2:30pm. The screenings are FREE and open to the public. Please join us.

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CommentsCategories Art DocFilm January 2013 SciArt Science UK US World

Jan 22, 2013

#SCIART Current Events: Boston and Beyond

#SCIART Current Events: Boston and Beyond

Photo Credit: David Maisel’s History’s Shadow

Thanks to everyone who submitted to our BLUR Art & Science Pinterest Contest! Here are some ongoing and upcoming events in the world of Art and Science for you to check out:

Ongoing at FACT Liverpool: Noisy Table, an interactive ping pong table which emits sound as games are played, and Winter Sparks, a show in which four new media artists play with electricity and Tesla coils (both shows until February 24).

January 24: DIY BIO led by Romie Littrel at the Broad Art Center in Los Angeles

January 24: Maya Lin speaks at the Central Library in Copley Square, Boston

January 24: Brazilian animator Guilherme Marcondes presents the work from MIT Game Lab workshop at MIT Museum

January 28: Science on Screen at the Coolidge Corner Theatre presents Wes Anderson’s Rushmore (1998) with a talk by Steven Schlozman, MD

January 30: A Symposium with Gallery talk by Swiss Landscape Architects at Boston Architectural College

February 6: LASER event at Stanford University with talks on various subjects as well as an exercise to encourage discussion of ongoing art and science projects. (Next event April 4.)

February 14: Chemical Romance workshop led by Christina Agapakis at Broad Art Center in Los Angeles

February 15: Compass Points: Joël Tettamanti opens at the MIT Museum with work that focuses on the impact of humans on their environment and landscape.

February 16: Ocean Stories: A Synergy of Art and Science at the Museum of Science, Boston.

February 25-March 24: Encounters Between Art and Science, an exhibit at The British Library by artists on the Art and Science MA programme at Central St Martins - the work is all inspired by the Library and its science collections, and runs alongside Inspiring Science, a series of events and workshops which runs from March 11 to March 24 at The British Library.

Various events held by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences can be found here, taking place in California and Cambridge, MA.

Various events held by the UCLA Art│Sci Center and Lab

For more ideas about exhibits in the coming year, the Smithsonian blog Collage of Arts and Sciences has some recommendations too.

So check out some of these events if they’re near you while we wait for the BLUR contest results!

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events January 2013 SciArt SciComm Science Social Media UK US World

Jan 18, 2013



Last night’s World Premiere of New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1 at the RISD Art Museum was great. We were thrilled to share our films about the creation of landscape sculptures at Gibbs Farm with the RISD community, and Producer/Director Alberta Chu and Editor Stephanie Munroe enjoyed the Q&A afterwards with such an engaged audience of filmmakers, artists, and designers.

It was so interesting to see the New Form at the Farm documentary alongside our 2004 film Seeing the Landscape: Richard Serra’s Tuhirangi Contour. Thanks to Deborah Clemons, Associate Educator, Public Programs, at the RISD Art Museum for programming such a nice event. A big THANKS to everyone who attended, and especially those who travelled up from NYC and down from Boston.

A group of us from Boston jumped on the Amtrak and headed down to Providence in the afternoon to explore RISD’s Nature Lab as well as the RISD Museum prior to showtime. RISD is one of the centers of the STEM to STEAM movement, which strives to change public policy by adding the "A" (for art and design) back into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum of public education. Last night, we learned that RISD President @JohnMaeda is a prime mover in this area. EVENT PHOTOS

We hope to see you at our next event, a screening of New Form at the Farm at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum on February 2!

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events SciArt Social Media STEM to STEAM UK US World

Jan 15, 2013



Dismemberment Site 1 at Gibbs Farm. Anish Kapoor. 2009

Our documentary film “New Form at the Farm: Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment Site 1” will be having its World Premiere this week at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI. At the premiere we will also be showing our 2004 film “Seeing the Landscape: Richard Serra’s Te Tuhirangi Contour.”  Both of these films explore the planning and execution of large-scale sculpture projects within a landscape, and both are set on Gibbs Farm in New Zealand, but what about other sculpture parks around the world?

While Gibbs Farm is 1000 acres, two of the next biggest sculpture parks in the world are around 500 acres each and feature internationally renowned artists: The Storm King Art Center in New York state and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England. Storm King features work by artists Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, David Smith, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Andy Goldsworthy, and Isamu Noguchi, while Yorkshire includes work by Henry Moore, Andy Goldsworthy, Sophie Ryder, and Barbara Hepsworth, and is free of charge. Both are must-see parks for anyone interested in large-scale sculpture. Further afield, Norway has several parks, including two which feature work by Anish Kapoor (Artscape Nordland and Kistefos-Museet Sculpture Park) as well as the largest park dedicated to the work of a single artist, the Vigeland Museum and Sculpture Park, which features the work of Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland. In South Africa, the NIROX Foundation Sculpture Park, which is set in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, aims to “advance Africa’s place in the global contemporary arts” and provides a residency program, temporary exhibits, and a museum in addition to the park. On Naoshima Island in Japan, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima offers both outdoor and indoor commissioned and site-specific work, and visitors can experience the art over a series of days, as the Site also includes four hotel facilities, renovated by architect Tadao Ando.

Guilin YUZI Paradise Sculpture Park (

Some newer sculpture parks include the Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh, Scotland, which includes commissioned work by Andy Goldsworthy, Antony Gormley, and Anish Kapoor. The park opened in May 2009. The Guilin YUZI Paradise Sculpture Park in China also recently opened to the public after an extensive phased construction, and, alongside its spectacular surrounding landscape, represents an exciting addition to the field. In Brazil, the Insituto Inhotim has a superb collection of sculpture and contemporary art which features Brazilian and international artists. Their gardens, recently officially made Botanical Gardens, hold the biggest palm collection in the world.

In Santa Barbara, CA, David Bermant’s incredible collection of sculpture melds science, technology, and art, and can be found exhibited in locations throughout the city of Santa Barbara.

Researchers at the University of Birbeck, London, with the help of San Francisco Bay Area sculptor James Benbow Bullock, have created an International Directory of Sculpture Parks. Though by no means exhaustive you can browse by location or search by park or artist name. So if you’re looking for an art pilgrimmage this site will help.

In the meantime, if you are in New England this week, you can enjoy the lush vistas of Gibbs Farm without getting on a plane at our RISD Museum World Premiere of “New Form at the Farm,” where you can learn more about Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra’s exciting work in New Zealand. January 17th @ 6:30.


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CommentsCategories Art Environment January 2013 SciArt UK US World

Jan 3, 2013


2012 was a busy year for ASKlabs: filmmaking, social media, researching new ideas and stories, and an excellent film premiere. We participated in our first hackathon, went to our first Meetup, and made our first microdocumentary (super short film). Additional 2012 highlights include artist Tom Sachs' "Mission to Mars" installation at the Park Street Armory, Ai Weiwei at the the Hirshhorn Museum, Lauren Greenfield's documentary film "Queen of Versailles," meeting popular science author Steven Johnson, attending the World Congress of Science Producers conference in DC, and being safe inside a Faraday cage while being zapped with 1 megavolt of electricity.

We completed our film “Lightning Dreams: The Electrum at Gibbs Farm,” in February and had an excellent film premiere event at the Boston Museum of Science in November as part of their "When Art Meets Science" film series. San Francisco high-voltage engineer Greg Leyh appeared in person and Daniel Davis dazzled our audience with an amazing show of electricity in the MOS Theater of Electricity; the event was lauded in the Boston Globe and sold out.  Audience members and MOS staff all agreed that our event “Lightning Strikes” exceeded every expectation. We are extremely grateful to our friend and supporter, Boston artist and inventor (and sometimes museum consultant) Steve Hollinger for making this happen. Thanks to Lisa Monrose and Jennifer Garrett at the Museum of Science. West-coast and European premieres of the film are being planned for 2013. Stay tuned for details.

ASKlabs continues to develop films that increase public awareness and knowledge of global climate change. One greatly impacted area is the coral reef ecosystem. For that project we travelled to Cancun, Mexico to film the underwater sculptures of Jason de Cairnes Taylor which are seeded to help coral regenerate. The film will be completed in Spring of 2013.

In August, ASKlabs produced the microdocumentary “Putting it Together: The Modular Car” about group of MIT students leveraging crowd-sourced innovation to build a fuel-efficient modular vehicle - this car is to be developed in 2014 will do better than 200mpge. Filmed on location at MIT's Edgerton Center, thanks to Camilla Brinkman for helping to make this happen.

We jumped into transmedia when the Zeega/Tribeca Film Festival Hackathon accepted our interactive documentary concept about the late 19th century War of Currents between Edison and Tesla; during the day-long Hackathon we created films with other media-makers and artists using the novel new browser-based editing software developed by Jesse Shapins and his crew at Zeega in Cambridge. 

ASKlabs is currently in the midst of the BLUR pinterest contest - people from around the world are submitting Pinterest boards of images that say "beautiful science." We’re excited to bring the international emerging art/science community together as we approach the January 15th deadline for submissions.

At the close of 2012, we are developing what we believe is the perfect science-art documentary. We’ll reveal more as soon as we can.

We hope to see you at one of our screenings or events in 2013, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @ASKlabsAlberta. Thank you for your enthusiam and support always!


Alberta Chu

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CommentsCategories Art Boston DocFilm Environment Events January 2013 SciArt SciComm Science Social Media UK US World

Dec 27, 2012

Hashing out Art and Science Hashtags & BLUR Pinterest Contest Prizes!

Twitter is a GREAT way to reach out to people that you don’t know but who have similar interests or do similar work. But to catch their attention, how do we know which hashtags to drop into which Tweets? Certainly more specific ones like #physics or #illustration make sense, but what about more generally? If Twitter can help us build a community around people who appreciate the collaboration of art and science, then we need a common language to help us communicate with each other. We have looked into the most common uses, recently, of some art and science hashtags and here's what we found:

But where’s the hashtag??
Image from

So, we’ll start with the shortest, and most easily Tweetable: #artsci does bring up some interesting tweets but the feed is choked by information from the Registrars of Arts and Science departments such as Rutgers Camden or University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts and Science. On the other hand, #sciart has lots of great Tweets, and seems a lot more widely used than #artsci. Surprisingly, though it seems clunkier, #scienceart comes up with the widest and coolest array of relevant entries. These include videos of snowflake chemistry, beautiful illustrations, and calls for collaborations and submissions to science and art competitions. And finally, the very clunky #artandscience, as far as we can tell, brings up great stuff but is more institutionally based, so things like exhibits and articles are there, rather than random Twitter users sharing with each other.

This is not to say these hashtags are going to continue to be used this way. Social media is constantly evolving. If nothing else, it will remind you of the variety of ways you can search for cool ideas and inspirations in the world of art and science, which you can then use for your BLUR Pinterest board contest entries! Entries are due in just a few weeks on January 15, 2013. You can SUBMIT via Facebook message to our FB page: ASKLabs Documentary Film.

Announcing revised ASKLABS BLUR Pinterest Contest Prizes:
1st place: $200 Visa Gift Card and collection of three ASKlabs “Science as Art” documentary films featuring sculptures by Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, and Eric Orr.
2nd place:  $50 Visa Gift Card and collection of three ASKlabs “Science as Art” documentary films featuring sculptures by Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, and Eric Orr.
3rd place: Collection of three ASKlabs “Science as Art” documentary films featuring sculptures by Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, and Eric Orr.

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CommentsCategories Art December 2012 SciArt SciComm Science Social Media UK US World

Dec 19, 2012

Art & Science Blogs: Some of our favorites to inspire your BLUR Pinterest boards!


Looking for some inspiration to help prepare your BLUR contest entry? Here are some of our favorite recent blog posts from the world of Science and Art.

Visual Science is a frequently updated blog from Discover magazine which presents new work, interesting issues in scientific imagery, and current exhibitions. A recent post highlights the work of local artist Nathalie Miebach, who combines basket-weaving, climate data, and climate change in her sculptures. Miebach’s work can be seen at the Massachusetts College of Art New Residency Hall in Boston, or at any of her upcoming shows, including a collaborative exhibit at Museum of Science, Boston and a solo exhibit at the California Museum of Arts and Craft, Los Angeles, CA in 2013. Exciting stuff!

If you want to know more about upcoming exhibits in your area, Symbiartic, which is a great blog from Scientific American run by bloggers Kalliopi Monoyios and Glendon Mellow, has brought back its “SciArt Buzz” segment, which lists regionally relevant SciArt exhibits and events. Even if you can’t make it to any of the events they’re promoting, you can check out their blog posts, which frequently focus on illustration and visualizations. We enjoyed and shared their shock and horror about sugar contents of common snacks as visualized by!

For more conceptual inspirations, we’d recommend At the Interface, by UK Blogger Johanna Kieniewicz, who works at The British Library. Her recent posts discuss the “how” and “why” of art and science collaborations. Or, if you want something entertaining, check out this post from Hayley Gillespie’s Biocreativity, which highlights the finalists from the Dance Your PhD competition, in which science PhD students choreograph their research! Hayley, who is also the owner/founder of Art.Science.Gallery in Austin, TX, has some great information about regional Texan events and resources, too.

Just wanted to give you some ideas for your BLUR Pinterest board entries! Entries are due in just a few weeks on January 15, 2013. You can SUBMIT via Facebook message to our FB page: ASKLabs Documentary Film.

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CommentsCategories Art December 2012 Events SciArt SciComm Science Social Media UK US World