Invited artists are combining formal aesthetics with a broad field of physics, resulting in a multidisciplinary culmination that attests to the innovation occurring in both art and sciences. The intent is to emphasize crossovers in techniques and approaches that appear in both disciplines. The field of physics, employing reductive processes, works with principles that essentially break down nature into its smallest parts and draw conclusions based on observed relationships between these parts. In contrast, artists often use additive processes and juxtapositions in order to synthesize reality to create a new order. The most apparent commonality for both physics and art are in a moment of completion when the physical outcome becomes greater than the sum of its parts. The combination of science, technology, and art allows viewers to engage in a new sensory experience of nature that would not be otherwise possible. The group of artists in this exhibition are exploring subcategories of physics, such as sound, optics, matter, time, and force, to arrive in a new synthesis of visual art and science.
As a part of a new program initiative in the form of a mini-residency, we host an artist and scholar from the Czech Republic, Robert Vlasak from the School of Art and Design, Studio of Natural Materials, Jan Evangelista Purkyne University, and highlight work by Pavel Mrkus, School of Art and Design, Studio of Time-based Media, Jan Evangelista Purkyne University, Usti nad Labem, Czechia. We are also inviting Erik and Martin Demaine, a father and son creative duo from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Eric Edlund, an experimental physicist from the Physics Department, SUNY Cortland, Ariana Gerstein, and Monteith McCollum, interdisciplinary artists from the Department of Cinema, Binghamton University, and Bosnian-born performance, and conceptual artist Selma Selman, to share their work with the audience.
On Thursday, January 30, the gallery holds a one-day, three-part event that begins with a workshop titled, Blacksmithing: Material Science conducted by Robert Vlasak at the Foundry adjacent to the Professional Studies building on west campus. Vlasak will demonstrate traditional blacksmithing techniques while emphasizing the science of metallurgy combined with formal considerations for object-making. The program will continue with an opening reception at the Dowd Gallery, Dowd Fine Arts Center on the corner of Prospect Terrace and Graham Ave. The opening will break with a performance by Selma Selma. Her one-woman act, Superpositional Intersectionalism, is based on the idea that a quantum-scale interaction can physically exist in multiple places simultaneously. The fluidity and numerous possible outcomes built into reality, space, and time stand as a metaphor for the diversity of individual identity.
The supporting program brings the exhibited pieces into a wider context. In addition to a speaker series, documentary screenings are on the schedule for February 13 and 26. The first installment of shorts stars artists and scientists that place their practice within the cross-section of art and science. Erik and Martin Demaine, John Edmark, Semiconductor, Studio Swine, and others will be presented. The second full feature film, CERN & The Sense of Beauty, directed by Valerio Jalongo, allows the audience to find beauty and art behind the walls of the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Dowd Gallery is introducing several accomplished artists and academics to participate in a series of talks on various topics. The speaker series will start on February 2 with a gallery talk by Sally Prasch, who works at the Glassblowing Lab at both the University of Massachusetts and The University of Vermont. Perch, who is a visual artist and scientific technician, will be talking about the history, art, music, and science of glass. She says, "The art of glassmaking has been a catalyst for different cultures coming together throughout history. It has been a unique material that has helped with many scientific discoveries, including the telescope, microscope, bell jar, light bulb, semiconductors, fiber optics, and many more. It is a material that literally shaped and enhanced our world."
A panel discussion is on the program on February 5. The visiting artist Robert Vlasak will introduce his research and art practice anchored in the midst of technology, traditional craft, art, and science. Eric Edlund will reflect on his experience of creating images with objects for this show. "These images address ideas of representation, accuracy, and the essence of novel undertakings, explorations that lead one to unexpected places and new ideas." Edlund toned. Jaroslava Prihodova, Dowd Gallery director, will moderate a discussion that will follow the presentations.
Ariana Gerstein will deliver her artist's talk on 'the idea of discrete' on February 20. Gerstein adds." Particle-built time rings true for filmmakers! A series of isolated flashes only become perceptible as a flow (the river of time) when there are enough of them. The sense of “the flow of time” results from the cumulative perception of minds entangled within the complex ways of perceiving bodies. It is seductive, convincing, but like everything else, it should endure examination and questioning."
The last event of the speaker series is an Artist's Talk, slotted for February 27 by Monteith McCollum. He will concentrate on the topic of film and sound art. McCollum explains. “My work is often inspired by objects and tactile forms. Performance and sculpture expand upon the limits of cinema, building new ways to experience the ephemeral."
All lectures are held at the Dowd Gallery located in the Dowd Fine Arts Building. Programs are free and open to the public.
Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine are a father-son math-art team. Martin started the first private hot glass studio in Canada and has been called the father of Canadian glass. Since 2005, Martin Demaine has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Erik is also at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Professor in computer science. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. In these capacities, Erik and Martin work together in the paper, glass, and other material. They use their exploration in sculpture to help visualize and understand unsolved problems in science, and their scientific abilities to inspire new art forms. Their artistic work includes over 300 curved origami sculptures, including pieces in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Renwick Gallery in the Smithsonian. Their scientific work includes over 100 published joint papers, including several about combining mathematics and art. They won a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013) for exploring the folding of other materials, such as hot glass.
Dr. Eric Edlund is an Assistant Professor of Physics at SUNY Cortland. Here he teaches the set of introductory, calculus-based physics courses. His primary pedagogical interest is a development of inquiry-based, active-learning laboratory experiences that both engage student interests and ground theoretical concepts in personal experience. Previously, Dr. Edlund worked as a research scientist at M.I.T.’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. Among other things, Dr. Edlund wrote a grant that received over $1M from the U.S. Department of Energy for the development of “phase-contrast imaging” diagnostic for the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator facility located in Greifswald, Germany. That diagnostic successfully operated for two years and produced many interesting measurements of plasma turbulence; this project now continues into its 5th year. Dr. Edlund conducted his postdoctoral research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he studied angular momentum transport in astrophysical bodies. His current research continues with the Wendelstein 7-X facility, and he is developing a new experiment that will revisit studies form his past related to fluid turbulence. Dr. Edlund studied physics and mathematics at the California State University at Chico and earned his Ph.D. at M.I.T., where he studied the propagation of electromagnetic waves in tokamak plasmas.
Monteith McCollum and Ariana Gerstein have worked both independently and collaboratively in the areas of film, video, installation, performance, sound, and sculpture. They share an interest in the use and reconsideration of older technologies to explore various histories, memory, and time. McCollum’s videos in this exhibition express these concepts through visual and sonic landscapes and include Listen, Soundprint, and In a Free Sound Field. Gerstein’s videos shown in this exhibition do so while exploring the common desktop scanner as an alternative to a digital or film camera. These works include Close the Lid Gently, Performance for Perfection, and In Glass Houses. One of McCollum’s videos and one of Gerstein’s shown here share a common subject, Don Boros.
Ariana Gerstein is an interdisciplinary artist. Her independent productions have included digital video, sculpture, installation, and performance. Her films have been screened at festivals worldwide, including International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, London International, European Media Arts Festival in Osnabrueck, Germany, Media City in Canada, New York Film Festival, SXSW, and others. She has shown at MoMA, San Francisco Cinematheque, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfort, Pacific Film Archives in Berkley, and other locations. Awards include the Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental Film from Ann Arbor Film Festival, Golden Gate Award from San Francisco International Film Festival, Special Jury Award for Artistry in Documentary at Atlanta Film Festival, Truer Than Fiction/Independent Spirit Award with Monteith McCollum. Gerstein is an Associate Professor at the Cinema Department, University of Binghamton, NY.
Monteith McCollum is an inter-media artist working in film, sound, performance, and sculpture. His films have screened at Festivals and Museums including The MoMA, Hirshhorn, Wexner Center for the Arts and Festivals including SXSW, Slamdance, Hot Docs, San Francisco International Festival. His award-winning films and sound work have received support from organizations including New York Foundation for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, N.E.A., Jerome Foundation, and Kodak. McCollum is an Associate Professor at the Cinema Department, University of Binghamton, NY.
With Ariana Gerstein, he was named a Rockefeller Fellow for their collaborative work in documentary. Other honors include over a dozen best of festival awards at San Francisco International, Amsterdam Documentary Festival, Slamdance, Ann Arbor, Bermuda, Nashville, South by Southwest, and Amsterdam International Documentary Festival to name a few. His short films Lawn and Milk in the Land were shown on PBS as part of the P.O.V. series.
Pavel Mrkus is an audiovisual artist who works with digital moving images and sound for often sight-specific installations. He graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague, Czech Republic. His later focus on Religious Studies at Charles University in Prague, in combination with a four-year teaching position at Toyama City Institute of Glass Art in Japan, lead him to utilize a unique mixture of cultural paradigms within his work. After showing at 50th Venice Biennial in 2003, he participated in many group and solo shows around the world. In 2012, he was awarded an Artist of the Year by the Gallery of Fine Art, a web magazine Artalk and Art&Antiques journal, for his exhibition Next Planet at the House of Arts in Brno. In collaboration with a visual artist, Daniel Hanzlik, Mrkus established a Time-Based Media studio at the School of Art and Design at J. E. Purkyne University in Usti nad Labem, where he now serves as the dean.
Jaroslava Prihodova is a visual artist, designer, and curator interested in interdisciplinary topics and collaborations. Her artistic practice generally revolves around issues associated with the object. She spent most of her informative years developing language that sufficiently translates ideas into a material. As a maker, Prihodova often explores ideas and their application across disciplines. As a result, she continually searches for a balance between several core doctrines: design, science, and fine art. In many instances, this schism creates a climate for particular limitations with interesting challenges. Prihodova received her BFA from School of Art and Design, Studio of Natural Materials, Jan Evangelista Purkyne University, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic, and MFA from School of Visual and Performing Arts, Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Syracuse University, NY. She now works as the director of the Dowd Gallery at SUNY Cortland, NY.
Selma Selma is a conceptual artist incorporating other angels of contemporary art in her work, such as performance, painting, photography, drawing, and video installations. Her work aims to protect and enable female bodies and enact a cross-scalar approach to the collective self-emancipation of oppressed women. As a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a Roma origin, her search for specific political resistance stems from her personal experience with oppression coming from many directions and scales. Selman utilizes her background as a lens through which she can understand the universal human condition and its idiosyncrasies. She exhibited nationally and internationally and was featured in solo exhibitions organized in New York, Budapest, Vienna, among others. Most recently, she was selected to appear in the 2019 Venice Biennial. Her work is included in private and museum collections in the U.S. and abroad. She is a recipient of many awards, most notably in the 2017 Young European Artist Trieste Contemporaneity Award. Selma is also a founder of the organization ”Get The Heck To School,” which aims is to empower Roma girls all around the world who experience poverty, discrimination, and marginalization by individuals and as well as society.
Robert Vlasak is a multidisciplinary artist whose work deals with the connection between natural sciences, contemporary technology, and art. He addresses dependencies and relationships between physical processes and the principles of science that can be transformed into aesthetic objects. Vlasák’s installations can be understood as modes of mediation that have not only a peculiar poetic quality but also a specific industrial character and beauty. Robert Vlasak is the head of the Studio of Natural Material at the School of Art and Design, University of Jan Evangelista Purkyne, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic. He has shown nationally and internationally and participated in many residencies in Europe. His work was included in numerous publications, most notably in an anthology “Metaphysics of Laboratory,” written by a philosopher Martin Kolar. Vlasak’s work is included in private collections and art institutions. He obtained his habilitation in 2019 at the University of Jan Evangelista Purkyne, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic.