By Elsie Percival
Kasia Molga, a artist, sat in a room full of teenagers asking them to study their breath. Each eagerly inspected the imprints made by exhaling onto a glass plate under a microscope and compared these unusual portraits with one another, contemplating the significance of something they unconsciously did every second of every day.
Molga believes that the simple action of breathing connects the outside world with our internal world. She is interested in the quality of air, how this will change with an increase in carbon concentration and pollution, and thus affect the vital bodily function that humans depend on. Molga’s video portrait of breathing takes an invisible connection between us and the atmosphere and visually brings it to life. Her work in turn draws our attention to the fragility of the human-environment relationship.
Molga’s sciart, A Portrait of Your Breath, is just one example of the many interactive and evocative works produced through Science Gallery International (SGI)–a science-art venture aimed at engaging the young community in research and scientific ideas. SGI was initially established at Trinity College, Dublin and was founded by Dr. Michael John Gorman in 2008. Google invested one million dollars into the project, which enabled SGI to establish its first gallery in Dublin, recruit talent and commission artists.
Since 2008 SGI has flourished and is now able to start pursuing the dream of establishing gallery spaces in eight major cities in association with universities around the world–extending the benefits that sciart has to offer. The initiative has recently set up a second base in London, and is putting down roots in the heart of the city–opposite the Shard and London Bridge–in the form of exhibition spaces, workshop rooms and a cafe. Construction will begin inside the Bolan House next year with an opening planned for 2017.
The new space will cover 2000m2 and will be for public use. The space will be associated with Guy’s Campus at Kings College London and Guys Hospital. This will be an opportunity for scientists to share their research with the wider community, the community to explore scientific ideas, artists to be inspired by and contribute to science, and to grow a scientific culture rich with individual, societal and environmental context.
Although the building will mark the official physical launch of the London Science Gallery, the organization has held two events in the past twelve months. The first; ‘Frequencies–Tune into Life’ was an art-science collaboration in which artists, musicians and scientists from Kings College and Guys Hospital worked together to make artworks about the biorhythms of life. The second public exhibition; ‘Fed Up–the future of food’, explores the science behind food, the culture of food and what the future holds for food with the current trend of resource depletion and environmental degradation.
In terms of SciArt, we have seen partnerships between science and art, as well as places where the public can engage with science. But rarely have there been spaces where art, science and the public come together to collaborate and produce new ideas and improve old ones; especially on this scale, and in such a prime location. This will not only be a place to engage the public, but will forge a new way of building scientific concepts and innovations that places science within society.
If you wish to contribute to one of the SGI exhibitions, you can pitch your ideas online and, if successful, have your work commissioned by the organization.