Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics Laboratoire national canadien pour la recherche en physique nucléaire et en physique des particules

Science World Hosts Emily Carr/TRIUMF Art

04 April 2012

Starting this Easter weekend, Science World is hosting a collection of art created from TRIUMF's Artist's in Residence program. Inspired by physics and visits to the lab, the art was created by students from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. 

These pieces will be displayed for the first time at Science World in the Telus World of Science and are hung around the premises, providing visitors of all ages an opportunity to contemplate science from an artistic perspective. 

Liz Toohey-Wiese (’11), one of the artists selected for this year’s exhibit, co-created a piece with Dan Crawford (photo, right). They used typed words on recipe cards to visually explain a very strange concept in physics: particle duality in quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, a particle can exist in multiple states at once, until one is selected or chosen. 

Says Toohey-Wiese, “I realized that quantum mechanics is like a day. Anything is possible in the morning when you wake up, and at the end of the day, you can look back and see what did happen.”

Since her experience working with researchers, Toohey-Wiese now begins her projects with a more scientific process. She undertakes research before creating a piece, and shares the ideas with a variety of different peers to gain insights, which can lead to artistic discoveries.  

David Morrissey, a theoretical physicist at TRIUMF, who explores the physics behind dark matter and the yet-to-be-discovered Higgs particle, has discovered the similarities between art and science since he began working with Emily Carr students.

Says David, “It was great to see how art was created. In science, as you go through the process, very often the place where you end up is not necessarily where you had in mind. I see now that the same is true of making art; in both cases, the process steers you.” 

TRIUMF's Artists in Residence program began in 2009. Associate Professor Ingrid Koenig developed a Humanities seminar—Black Holes and Other Transformations of Energy—based on her own studio practice. The course focuses on theoretical physics within social and political contexts. For the past three years, students in her class have visited TRIUMF to speak with researchers and spend time at the lab gathering inspiration for their work. Through discussion and creative exploration, students have developed a broad spectrum of pieces from playful to provocative based on the discipline of quantum physics, and by examining the construction of science.

“Through contemporary art in its many forms, the narrative of science enters the human story and becomes materially transformed,” says Associate Professor Ingrid Koenig, (TRIUMF’s Artist in Residence). “By visiting TRIUMF, students see examples of how the biggest questions about the universe are actually physically examined in a lab. They are surprised by the messiness factor, and puzzled by how the abstractness of physics comes to terms with human experience.”

The exhibit runs from Thursday, April 5 through Sunday, May 27, 2012. Other works include a visual interpretation of a cloud chamber (which is a device that makes cosmic rays coming in from outer space visible to the naked eye), and a humorous attempt to bring physics into the everyday with a series of photographs of flour and sugar solar systems. 

 

-- Written by Jennifer Gagné (TRIUMF) & Roxanne Toronto (Emily Carr)