From visualizations of neurons, Fukushima seismographs, light-sensitive chloroplast-generated photographs, and electron microscope captured specimens of the HIV virus, the idea for “Imag(in)ing Science,” the exhibition at Grunwald Gallery of Indiana University, sparked about three years ago when Jeffery Wolin, Ruth N. Hall’s Professor of Photography at IU, began his hunt for lens-based imaging in all methodologies. Wolin visited Claire Walczak at the Light Microscopy Imaging Center on campus and began to discuss the possibility of an exhibition that paired scientists and artists to make images together using the microscopes at LMIC. Walczak introduced Wolin to Jim Powers, research scientist and manager of LMIC, and to Alex Straiker from the Psychological and Brain Sciences department.
“Alex and Jim were already making incredibly beautiful images of incredibly tiny things. So they were all recruited to be part of our art and science collaboration.”
Around the same time, Andrew Lumsdaine, professor of computer science at IU and eventual collaborator, contacted Wolin after hearing how Wolin’s graduate photography seminar had discussed plenoptic photography - something Lumsdaine was working heavily on. Both agreed plenoptics would benefit the art and science fields and decided to work together.
“Then it was a matter of finding a few other pairs of visual artists and scientists from a variety of fields,” said Wolin. “We could have had dozens of such teams but to keep things manageable we chose artists from the School of Fine Arts with a variety of diverse media and met as a group along with researchers mostly from the life sciences with the odd geologist thrown in for effect.”
Photo courtesy of Grunwald Gallery of Art.
The collaborative teams met repeatedly over the past year to compare notes and were constantly blown away by what other teams were accomplishing. Graduate students from fine arts and the sciences were also assisting the projects from its early stages. Zach Norman, a graduate student in photography, and previous students of Lumsdaine, assisted in their plenoptics project. Norman also assisted collaborator Caleb Weintraub with prints. Finally, in August of 2013, six teams of scientists and artists had established "Imag(in)ing Science," where each team produced a piece dealing with their respective fields of science and imagery. The teams formed for “Imag(in)ing Science” plan to continue their cross-discipline relationships. Wolin, when asked about the process of collaboration, replied, “It’s rare, obviously, for artists and scientists at this level to take significant amounts of time to collaborate with people from such seemingly different fields of inquiry. Somewhere over the past few hundred years lines started to appear between disciplines and especially between the arts and sciences, as all our disciplines became so much more specialized. We are fortunate to be at an institution like Indiana University where it is possible for artists to find kindred spirits working in the sciences and vice versa. I think we all managed to make good art together.”
"Imag(in)ing Science" was held from August 30th through October 11th, 2013. Artists/Scientists teams: Caleb Weintraub/Jim Powers Jeffrey Wolin/Andrew Lumsdaine James Nakagawa/Michael Hamburger Arthur Liou/Jim Powers/Alex Straiker Margaret Dolinsky/Roger Hangarter Rowland Ricketts/Roger Hangarter/Jim Powers