Tag Archives: art

Expressing Science Through Art

Cover image credit: Kate Nichols. Through the Looking Glass 1. Silver nanoparticles on glass. 24 x 45 inches, 2011. Photo credit: Donald Felton.​ When I look back to the past, it always seems to be a simpler time. Luminaries such as Leonardo Da Vinci were scientists, scholars, artists, and everything in between (wikipedia has a list of

Our Changing Watershed


Watershed is the fourth in a fantastic series of art and science events put on by BAASICS (Bay Area Art and Science Interdisciplinary Sessions). Join us in attending Watershed this Saturday, January 18th from 7-9 PM at the ODC Theater in San Francisco. Click here for tickets and details.


We live in a watershed. Berkeley is part of a 4,600 square mile region known as the San Francisco Bay Watershed, because all of the snow or rain that falls on this land drains into the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, our beloved San Francisco Bay. As Chris Holdgraf mused in his recent post, “From Snowmelt to City Blocks,” it is easy to take the water we use in our homes for granted. He explained that much of our water comes from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, 174 miles away. Though most of us never think of it, we are connected to Hetch Hetchy by meandering depressions in the earth that collect water as it travels down to the Pacific. This Saturday, BAASICS invites you to reflect on our local watershed through an evening of artist and scientist presentations. Our connection to Hetch Hetchy will be explored from the perspective of Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, Jay Lund, as well as from site research inspired composer Karl Cronin and the Americana Orchestra. The ecology and history of the San Francisco Bay Watershed will also be discussed. For several of the presenters, there is no distinction between science and art. Daniel McCormick and Mary O’Brien create ecological sculptures that heal damaged parts of the watershed. Megan Prelinger has curated historical maps of the San Francisco Bay landscape and co-authored an atlas showing the increasing emphasis on the watershed with time.

A night of art, science, and synesthesia


Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending The Creative Consciousness, an art and science extravaganza showcasing the creative talents of UC Berkeley students from the Art & Science DeCal in collaboration with the Synesthesia Association at Berkeley. For those of you who are unfamiliar with one of Berkeley’s coolest undergraduate programs, “DeCals” are student-run courses at UC Berkeley and the entire event was in fact organized by UC Berkeley undergraduates.

The opening night of The Creative Consciousness was an art gallery, science fair, and party, all rolled into one fun-filled night wrapped in a fantastic space with excellent beats spun by Bay Area performer DJ Schwa  (a perfect date-night for my artist husband and I). The event organizers sum up best what their show was about:

 “We hope to foster a sense of community and interdisciplinary appreciation through exploring science through art and art through science, witnessing all the ways it applies from everything to medicine, cartography, technology and beyond”

Tucked into the quiet streets of the warehouse district near Jack London Square (on a dark and rainy night, I might add) is the nondescript warehouse that hosted the event. Radiance Community Center was built to foster community and creativity, and seemed the perfect venue. Running in out of the rain, the first thing I see is a table displaying a box, a tablecloth—and a hand. A participant sits opposite a student facilitator, placing one hand on the table and the other one hidden under the cloth; a fake hand sits where one would expect his or her real hand to be. The facilitator brushes the participant’s “hand,” evoking the sense that one’s hand is actually being stroked.

1451453_10202370850455042_678686570_nMoving to the back, we enter a room of vibration and sound, the synesthesia core of the event. Synesthesia is the neurological condition in which one sensory pathway is evoked by another, for example, the ability to “see” sounds as specific colors. Ever competitive, my husband and I test our skills at linking color to smell by closing our eyes as the facilitator holds a smell under our noses while repeating the name of a color. We are then given the smells at random, and asked to repeat the color. I mix up garlic and pungent cheese, forgetting their respective colors (black and white) but easily remember green (interesting), orange (pleasant, likely a candle), and purple (I’m pretty sure this one was Vix vapor rub). This display is more than just scientific dissemination—it’s active research! The facilitator has been recording the results of each participant, and shows us the up-to-date data from her laptop.

Artists speak: Advice for scientists when communicating science

The descending roar of a bus as it accelerates away from a stop. A spider clings to its web on a streetlamp nearby. Students divulge the complexities of life in comestible stories. Silence doesn’t really exist, but if you listen closely, you can trick your mind to perceive it underneath the tiers of sounds of various decibels enveloping the air that surrounds you.

Simple components make up our banal existence, but to a scientist, or an artist, or a storyteller, these overlooked details edify life. The Creative Communications of Science Panel, hosted by Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, consisted of four innovative harbingers of modern scientific explorations: Todd Gilens is an artist that studied landscape architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of designs; Shane A. Myrbeck is an acoustician, sound artist and composer; Lauren Sommer is a science reporter for KQED radio staff; and Gail Wight is an assistant professor in the Art and Art History department at Stanford University. Together, these panelists shared how they each uniquely integrate science into art and recommended how scientists can use art, in its uncountable forms, to communicate science.