Raising awareness about the changing climate and effects of pollution may be important, but it is easier said than done. Luckily, through the exhibition DNA of Creativity, The San Diego Visual Artists Network has managed to creatively discuss impending effects of climate change. The project—on display through August 3 at the Oceanside Museum of Art in San Diego—aims to bring art and science together to explore the immense creative and educational potential of both fields.
By Yasmin Tayag
This project, started in 2011, brought together scientists and artists into four teams that each addresses creatively a particular global or local concern in their work: Sea Changes: ACT, Urban Succession, PolyAesthetic Mapping: the Muses (PAMM) and View Art Now.
Sea Changes: ACT focuses on the effects of climate change and pollution on the ocean. Team member Michelle Kurtis Cole, known for her work with glass, collaborated with the Birch Aquarium Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California–San Diego, to investigate ways to help repopulate the world’s decimated coral reefs. Her work, Fallen Reef, features delicate translucent glass sculptures shaped like coral, which are being tested in the Birch Aquarium as substrates on which new coral can form.
Ecosystems already existing in urban settings are highlighted by the Urban Succession team, organized by conceptual artist Jason Rogalski. Urban San Diego is already home to many species, and the artists involved worked together with ecologists to create sculptures that could act as temporary homes for these different species, catering to the specific needs of each. Orb Weaver Loom was imagined as a framework on which the orb weaver spider could build its home; sculpted out of mild steel, it features intricate mosaic detailing to attract insects as well as a jute and hemp base in which the spiders can hide.
PolyAesthetic Mapping: the Muses emphasizes the interconnectivity between art and science. The team, organized by artist and engineer Kaz Maslanka, developed an app that allows visitors to ‘map’ their own personal aesthetic choices regarding objects. Data is collected from a series of aesthetic judgments visitors are asked to make about items as varied as the Sistine Chapel to Bohr’s atom, and each individual map is visualized as a cube. Each of the eight corners of the cube represents one of the “PolyAesthetic Muses,” and together they comprise the ninth, central muse.
The SD View Art Now team, organized by San Diego Visual Artists’ Network member Patricia Frischer, used technology to help bring attention to the flourishing visual arts scene in San Diego County with an app linking the San Diego Visual Artists’ Network calendar to mobile and home devices. The app acts as a way for locals as well as tourists to quickly and easily locate visual art events in the area.
As Patricia Frischer wrote in her own blog post while working on this project, “artists increasingly became more scientific, while the scientists embraced art.” These are the kinds of interactions that will help us find new ways to address old concerns. What is most meaningful about the DNA of Creativity is its focus on the real-life, practical ways that science and art can come together to have an impact not just on each other, but also on the world around us.