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Revealing: Science from Art from Science

27 October 2012

RAW DATA: Artistic Transformation Connecting Subatomic Physics to Human Experience

In autumn 2012, TRIUMF (Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics) has been part of a unique type of experiment: This experiment did not involve colliding beams or high-intensity protons on target, but instead...colliding scientists with artists. On Saturday, November 3, the results of this experiment, as well as the original physics question, will be revealed to a public audience at Emily Carr University of Art + Design on Granville Island in Vancouver, Canada. The eagerly anticipated result will be an entirely new way of generating and communicating scientific ideas.

Professor Ingrid Koenig from Emily Carr University in Canada along with Margit Schild and Elvira Hufschmid of the Berlin University of Arts in Germany have designed the project to explore complex topics in an unique way, and to influence and create new ideas in both art and science. Called RAW DATA, this first experiment is part of a larger project which will extend to other subatomoic physics labs, and across scientific disciplines around the world.

This first run of the experiment happened in two parts – in the first part, four professional artists spent an entire day discussing a scientific question with three TRIUMF scientists. The art that this group produced was then passed on to a second set of artists who did not know the topic. Hence after, the art from those artists was passed to another set of artists who digested and interpreted the fundamental question. The results of the experiment will be on public display on November 1-3, 2012, in the Concourse Gallery of Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Inquiring minds may view the exhibit and guess and discover the original science question at the exhibit.

Nigel S. Lockyer, director of TRIUMF, said, "In physics, as in any science, it's important to gain inspiration from a lot of different areas. New ways of looking at the same problem can lead to great discoveries. I'm excited to see what the artists have produced and to reflect on their interpretations so as to enrich my own thinking." TRIUMF has declared itself a part of the Vancouver community and uses the neighbourly and artists interactions to help share their excitement of pioneering science with local citizens. 

The art RAW DATA project is a collaboration between international artists and physicists from TRIUMF, Canada´s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, and Emily Carr. By applying the practices of artistic transformation, a chain reaction of complex artistic metaphors is generated and hence a concrete problem from physics is translated to the four basic aesthetic media - music, body, language and image. The transformation process of RAW DATA: Artistic Transformation on one hand takes place by translating scientific or physical facts into art. On the other hand, artistic works will lead to new scientific questions or experiments, as a re-translation of artistic works into the realms of physics is intended.

In a so-called Translation Hub, the artistic RAW DATA that is provided by the artists is in turn to be re-translated into the scientific realm.

  • Nov 1: 8:30pm, Gallery opening
  • Nov 2: 10am - 5pm, Gallery open
  • Nov 2: 7pm, Performance evening, Suzi Webster, Performance; Sonnet L´Abbé, Reading Performance; Stefan Smulovitz, Interactive Sound Composition.
  • Nov 3: 10am-2pm, all exhibits open to the public
  • Nov 3: 3-5pm, Public Workshop with artists & physicists, at Concourse Gallery Emily Carr University

Artists: Dennis Burke, Randy Lee Cutler, David Khang, Ingrid Koenig, Sonnet L´ Abbé, Ben Reeves, Stefan Smulovitz, and Suzi Webster. Physicists: Kendall Mahn, Reda Tafirout, Abhishek Kumar, Chris Ruiz, Ania Kwiatkowski, Anadi Canepa, and Tim Meyer.  Process Design and TRIUMF Artists in Residence: Margit Schild, Ingrid Koenig, and Elvira Hufschmid 

-- from InterAction Collaboration press release