– Story by Lin Stranberg
The walkway under the south end of Cambie Bridge sports a high-impact, vinyl geometric mural encompassing the pathway, support pillars and ceiling. On its own, it’s an arresting sight. On a smartphone, it reveals another dimension.
Called Voxel Bridge, it’s the latest public art installation presented by the Vancouver Biennale and it’s like nothing else in the world. In fact, at 19,000 square feet, it’s the biggest blockchain-based augmented reality experience of its kind. It’s named for a voxel, a unit of value analogous to a pixel, with “vo” standing for volume instead of “pi” for picture. A voxel represents a single sample, or data point, on a regularly spaced, three-dimensional grid.
At Voxel Bridge, visitors use their smartphones to experience three realities simultaneously: the real world around them; the world of augmented reality; and the world of blockchain technology. Using the free, downloadable Vancouver Biennale app for iOS and Android devices, people walk through the Voxel Bridge mural and see it morph—through the complex relationship of art and technology—into a multi-dimensional sensory experience.
The installation uses advancements in augmented reality (AR) specially developed for Voxel Bridge by Spheroid Universe and supported by blockchain technology on the Kusama network. This collaboration came about chiefly because Brooklyn-based Colombian artist Jessica Angel has been a pioneer and leading advocate of the art and blockchain movement for years.
(What is blockchain? According to forbes.com: “At its core, blockchain is a distributed digital ledger that stores data of any kind. While any conventional database can store this sort of information, blockchain is unique in that it’s totally decentralized. Rather than being maintained in one location, by a centralized administrator…many identical copies of a blockchain database are held on multiple computers spread out across a network.”)
“Since I was 17, I’ve been connected with the blockchain community because my work has to do with bringing the concept of information to physical spaces through installation art,” she said. “I met a cryptographer who invited me to do a project, which led me to meet mathematicians, blockchain developers and countless others in this amazing, sharing community.”
Blockchain is open-source (non-proprietary) technology, thus Angel feels collaboration is the foundation on which the community was built. For Voxel Bridge, she collaborated closely with Spheroid Universe, the Kusama network and, of course, the team at the Vancouver Biennale.
The Vancouver Biennale is a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to creating open-air museums that celebrate art in Vancouver public space. It features both well-known and emerging international contemporary artists representing diverse cultural perspectives and artistic disciplines. As the definition of public space shifts more and more to virtual space—accelerated by the shifts we’ve experienced during the pandemic—the Biennale’s installations have come to include the most technically advanced examples of augmented and virtual reality (VR).
Jessica Angel knows Vancouver. She is an alumna of the Vancouver Biennale Artist Residency Program in 2018 and 2019, and through the Biennale also curated #ArtProject2020, a five-day virtual conference presented in the context of the bridge project, which brought together the leading minds in the NFT (non-fungible token) space.
Like all the Biennale’s public space art installations, the art may be bought by the city—as with Beijing artist Yue Minjun’s A-maze-ing Laughter, a legacy sculpture now installed in Morton Park in Vancouver’s West End, thanks to a donation from the Chip Wilson family—or sold off to interested collectors instead.
In the case of Voxel Bridge, elements of the art will be available for sale as NFTs which, because they are not physical, means the installation could be in place for years to come.
Delayed by COVID-19 complications, the installation is part of the 2018-2020 Open Air Museum exhibition, under the theme of re-IMAGE-n (reimagine) Public Space, intended to bring together artists from Canada and around the world to address some of the most prevailing issues of our times, one theme being digital technology.
Blockchain technology is a hot topic these days. Although an entire generation is now comfortable with smartphone AR, as used in Pokémon GO or the user-selected filters of Snapchat and Instagram, it’s still early days for blockchain technology. It’s something we all know about but don’t really understand or use, except for a few early adopters.
“This is a new underlying technology that lives on the Internet but it’s decentralized,” Angel said. “It offers new possibilities for cryptocurrencies, security and transparency, things of that nature.” Fittingly, cryptocurrency was used as payment for many of the collaborators on the project.
Her work uses art as the fulcrum to demonstrate the complex blockchain technology to a broad community.
“The design has boxy, block-inspired graphics, connected in the form of chains. Graphically, tapping on the VR links that appear shows the boxes are blocks in the Kusama network, which is just one blockchain of many. Tapping the links enables viewers to see data that lives on the Kusama network, so it’s as if you can dive into the blockchain space at Voxel Bridge.”
She added: “My goal when I created this installation was that people would at least ask questions,” she said. “What is this technology? Why is it important? How is it going to change the world?”
She likens blockchain technology today to the Internet in the ‘90s. “You’d think ‘oh, maybe I can send an email,’ but you wouldn’t see the potential of it until it developed. Something like that is happening right now.
“Blockchain is still really clunky. The mainstream doesn’t understand it so well. So I want to provide the first glimpse, and use art as a way to enter a world that tends to be technical and difficult to understand from an experiential perspective. It’s something I hope people will remember as a memory to cherish.”
Download the Vancouver Biennale app from the App Store, Google Play or www.vancouverbiennale.com and visit Voxel Bridge, located at the south end of Cambie Bridge. It’s best seen during the day, there’s no charge, and the installation has no set closing date as yet.
Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication
Bringing Together Art & The Cosmos | astrobites – Astrobites
Anyone who has seen an image from Hubble knows that space is downright beautiful. It’s almost no surprise that the wonders of the cosmos have inspired art and culture for much of humanity’s history. Science art is both valuable for and created by scientists, science communicators, and really anyone with any interest in space. In today’s Beyond Bite, we’ll look at the role and importance of science art in modern astronomy, as well as hear from many science artists about what motivates them to create.
The Value of Science Art
Science is inherently creative
Although science is often thought of as separate from and more objective than art, people are finally breaking down that idea. Science is done by people, for people, and inherently includes all the complexity that comes along with that. Science also requires a great deal of creative thinking, a fact that is integral to the popular STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) framework of education. This educational strategy incorporates both arts and science into a holistic education, building students’ critical thinking, problem solving skills, and creativity.
Visual art also comes into play in part of the scientific process: data visualization. Designing engaging, understandable, and appealing plots is akin to a creative art practice, and there are even contests for the best plot art, such as the John Hunter Excellence in Plotting Contest. Sometimes, the mistakes of data visualization create abstract art on their own, too, as displayed in @accidental_art.
Art bolsters wellbeing
From art therapy to adult coloring books, there is ample evidence of the benefits of practicing art on peoples’ mental health and overall wellbeing. Science, on the other hand, has a history of being hard on mental health (especially in graduate school!) and encouraging poor work-life balance. Research has shown that having hobbies, such as creative and artistic pursuits, can lower stress levels and improve people’s sense of work-life balance. Although hobbies and art certainly have value outside of their use in science, they can also help scientists find new creative inspiration to solve problems and even improve their productivity in the long run. Scientists can also share their hobbies and art as part of their science communication, breaking down harmful stereotypes and even boosting their credibility and effectiveness in connecting with various public audiences.
Science communication through art
One of the most often cited reasons for making science art is that it helps share science in a fun way that engages broad audiences. Only a fraction of the science being done makes it to the public, partially due to the fact that many audiences harbor mistrust of scientists or are simply unfamiliar with scientific thinking and methods. Another problem is the widely used “deficit model” of science communication, in which people need to simply be given objective information to change their views and learn.
Instead of seeing emotionality as simply a barrier to objectivity, we can harness emotion to engage audiences and build trust, often through art. Art can open the door to a different model of communication—two-way engagement, in which people actively ask questions and participate in understanding scientific discovery. Nature has even recently extolled the virtues of artist-scientist collaborations, describing the results as “exhilarating, challenging, enlightening, stimulating, inspiring, fun.”
A 2016 study of science communication found that art is increasingly being incorporated into science communication and outreach efforts through artist residencies, classes, exhibitions, and more, although physical science lags behind other disciplines in its use of science art. Dedicated science art galleries and events are also growing, such as the The Art of Planetary Sciences show at the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences yearly meeting and the STARtorialist booth at the AAS bi-annual meetings. Some institutions, such as Caltech, also have art installations within their academic buildings.
Stories from Science Artists
Although research has looked into the value of scientific art, it’s impossible to truly understand the impacts and motivations to make astronomical art without actually talking with the people involved. Below are quotes from many different science artists, describing their “why” for creating art based on outer space or telling stories about ways science art has enriched their lives, careers, and more.
“I’m pretty into space cross stitch…I realized the pulsar plot profile would work perfectly, and it turned out awesome so I made a second when Jocelyn [Bell Burnell] visited our department for her! The pulsar plot profile I made her is of the first pulsar she discovered. Think I reached my peak nerd in that pic of the two of us for sure. She loved it!” — Dr. Yvette Cendes @whereisyvette [Images below courtesy of Dr. Yvette Cendes]
“I make my little astronauts because they remind me to explore in wonder, to appreciate having a breathable atmosphere, and to remember what we can do when we collectively aim ourselves at a goal!” — XXYXXYART @xxyxxyart
“I think it’s very important for artists to make the huge universe something that everyone can relate to and enjoy in tangible ways.” — Yugen Tribe @yugentribe
“There are a lot of cool images in the Hubble archive that don’t make it out to the public in a meaningful way, so I try to find those and bring them out. Other than that, it’s a fun way to explore and begin to understand astronomy and astronomers.” — Judy Schmidt @SpaceGeck
“Space is vastly interesting…I usually am inspired by whatever I am learning about as my amateur astronomer/space lover self. Oppy up there [in the image] was in order to keep busy while I was worried about the dust storm. New Horizons was designed just after flyby, and I worked on Juno while watching it arrive at Jupiter.” — Alyshondra Meacham @AlyshondraM
“I do a lot of sci art because I want people to appreciate the things I study in a way where they might not normally see them…I think also a big thing for me too is I love defying expectations, and I’m so tired of seeing scientists depicted in such one-dimensional ways…we have other passions, especially in the arts, and I think the two go hand-in-hand. I think being solely invested in a singular science is not sustainable and is more susceptible to burnout.” — Marina Dunn @Astro__Marina
“I’ve tried my hand at some astro artwork as part of our #AstroOnTap LA [outreach] posters (for Caltech Astro)…it’s nice to take a break from science to work on these. They’re a labor of love.” — Cameron Hummels @astrochum [Images below courtesy of Cameron Hummels / Caltech Astronomy on Tap]
“In a nutshell, I find it hard to communicate ideas verbally. I’m very socially anxious, too, but I appreciate that science communication is extremely important. This [art] was my attempt of using the knowledge and toolset I have to communicate science and my research.” — Soheb Mandai @TheAstroPhoenix
“I just recently became a science artist…When COVID took over and we self-isolated, I knew the only way I’d be able to get through it would be creativity and connections. I sent out over 300 postcards (mostly astronomy and famous women in science) all over the world. Then someone said I should make my own postcards…I began making Afronaut Space Art postcards that I send out to my patrons once a month. I love it. I never imagined I could be a space artist and now here I am doing it.” — Astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor @DrSianProctor
“I do #sciart for three reasons: 1) When the universe is trying to kill you, sometimes you just need to find zen in the art of planetary sciences. 2) Not all news stories have good art to go with them and I fill gaps. 3) The income makes a difference.” — Dr. Pamela L. Gay @starstryder
“10 years ago I needed an illustration for a book I wrote on astronomy in national parks. That illustration was so popular with park rangers it launched a career that eventually let me retire as a professor to pursue science outreach through art full time.” — Tyler Nordgren @NightSkyPark [Images above courtesy of Tyler Nordgren]
“Creating sci art gives me another way to communicate science to the public. As an astrophysicist, I’m passionate about science, but it’s nice to be able to take a visual approach. I enjoy making distant phenomena more tangible through a painting, like an exoplanet landscape of clouds on a brown dwarf.” — Dr. Lacy Brock @stellerarts
“I’ve always had an interest in science fiction pop culture, mostly inspired by stories of lone astronauts bravely fighting against the unknown. They hit close to home a few years back, when my dad was dying from cancer and it felt like everyday I was facing new, intimidating worlds. A lot of my work at that time shows small astronauts alone on fracturing moons. But despite all that threatens them, they stand and face the uncertainty. The setting of space is a great backdrop for stories about confronting change bravely and to express empathy for people whose experiences and struggles seem so distant from our own.” — Amy Hill @amyraehill
Astronomical art illustrates the importance of creativity in science, and has a number of benefits to both its creators and viewers, enriching lives, creating community, and more. Art can help us share science in new and engaging ways, and together with art we can gain a deeper appreciation of our place in this vast universe.
Edited by Luna Zagorac
Featured image courtesy of Dr. Yvette Cendes
Thank you again to everyone who shared their experiences and stories with science art for this Bite! If you’re on the lookout for more science artists, check out this list of science artists, curated by the SETI Institute.
Celebs, fashion, 24k chicken wings at Miami Art Basel – BradfordToday
MIAMI (AP) — After a pandemic hiatus, the official Art Basel show is back in Miami with all its eccentric glory, a dizzying list of celebrity attendees and dozens of spin-off shows that are already generating a buzz, including a phenom child painter and a $4 million Banksy sale.
Ten-year-old contemporary artist Andres Valencia’s gallery has already nearly sold out at Art Miami. The San Diego-based artist simply saw a cubist painting in his living room two years ago and declared, ‘I can do that’.
Actress Sophia Vergara bought one of his pieces this week and Channing Tatum, Jordan Belfort, and artist Shepard Fairey stopped by his booth at the Art Miami fair to check out his work, according to a spokesperson for Chase Contemporary.
Proceeds from Valencia’s works are going to the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, which supports the arts, and environmental and wildlife education and preservation.
Maddox Gallery is also showing at Art Miami, selling Banksy’s Charlie Brown for $4 million dollars on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the gallery said this is the first year they’ve had a profound collection of Banksy canvases including many original works.
Basel’s annual prestigious December art fair draws collectors, socialites and celebrities from around the world. But fashion has also played a prominent role in recent years with Christian Dior hosting its first ever U.S. show in 2019 as a sort of unofficial kick-off to Miami’s art week.
Louis Vuitton did the same on Tuesday night, with its first ever U.S. fashion show. But the sudden death of its 41-year-old legendary designer Virgil Abloh turned the show into a somber yet whimsical celebration of life attended by Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West and her daughter North, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, model Bella Hadid, Joe Jonas, Maluma and Pharrell. Kid Cudi and Erykah Badu performed at an after-party. Ivanka Trump and hubby Jared Kushner were also in the crowd.
And Chanel collaborated with artist Es Devlin for a monumental sculptural installation to celebrate its iconic fragrance. The fashion house is taking over Jungle Plaza to create a multi-sensory experience using hundreds of plants and trees. The installation is open to the public, but several big name celebs are expected to attend Friday’s VIP dinner with a top-secret performance.
Gucci is hosting a party Thursday night to celebrate Mickalene Thomas’ Monograph.
Alicia Keys, Lizzo and Cardi B are also among those performing around town this week. The rapper is launching a new line of Vodka infused whipped cream on Saturday. After-party performances at various clubs this weekend include Migos, Meek Mill, Diplo and Marshmello.
While Miami’s art week is a draw for serious collectors, it is also full of the absurd, including diamond and gold chicken wings. Yep, Miami’s DJ Khaled dropped “bling wings” topped with 24-karat gold dust and edible diamonds to promote his restaurant Another Wing.
There’s also an 18 carat gold bagel avocado toast on sale for $2.9 million at Galerie Rother at Art Miami.
Celebrity sightings included Martha Stewart in a gold coat and walking cane at Komodo restaurant and the Denver Nuggets and Venus Williams popped bottles all night at Pharrell and David Grutman’s restaurant Swan.
Hailey Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Brooklyn Beckham, Nicola Peltz were spotted loading up on cocktails and caviar at Papi Steak and singer Camila Cabello was spotted in the trendy art district of Wynwood on Monday for an unveiling at Wynwood Walls to celebrate 14 new artists with murals and sculptures.
Kelli Kennedy, The Associated Press
Light Up the Hospital! Online Art Auction – The Nelson Daily
Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation is excited to announce our Online Art Auction & 50/50 Raffle.
As part of the Foundation Light Up The Hospital! campaign, Ivan and Mary Smith have graciously donated 13 prints by Carl Brenders, Stephen Lyman and Daniel Smith.
“Prior to his passing last year, my husband Ivan made arrangements to donate these prints from his collection to Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation,” Mary Smith explained when asked about this generous donation.
“It was his wish that funds raised from his donation would help support the medical services that helped him so much.”
“I have no words to express my appreciation for every staff member in every department in our wonderful hospital, with special thanks to Dr. Malpass,” Smith added.
“I hope that this small gesture will help to support our hospital and our community.”
The Online Art Auction and Raffle runs from December 1-15. Visit www.klhf.org now to link to the event.
All proceeds from this event will be directed to the Light Up the Hospital! campaign to purchase priority diagnostic equipment for the Lab at Kootenay Lake Hospital.
For more information, please call the Foundation office at 250-354-2334.
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