Some really amazing photos in this year’s batch:
The Princeton University’s “Art of Science” exhibition displays the work of Princetonians past and present that highlights the interplay between art and science. Its entries are chosen for their aesthetics as well as the scientific or technical interest they may hold.This year’s was the seventh Princeton University Art of Science competition. Let’s take a look at the top three winners in the contest, as well as the “People’s Choice” winner and some other dazzling works. We’ll also hear from the artists via comments they made about the works they created.”Watermark,” from postdoctoral researcher Sara Sadr, was this year’s first-place winner shown above. The pattern in the image was created by water moving back and forth on the Atlantic coast. “As a hydrologist, I am fascinated by the natural phenomena of our beautiful planet,” notes Sadr. “The way water in this picture found its way back to the ocean reminded me of a peacock’s tail spreading under the sun, or a woman’s hair blowing in the wind.”
If you saw this hanging out in a New York park last summer, now you know what it is:
It’s made from many, many plastic bottles stringed together. “53,780 used plastic bottles,” says designer Jason Klimoski, “the number thrown away in NYC in just 1 hour.” Klimoski and his team at STUDIO KCA collected the bottles – a combination of milk jugs and water bottles – and lashed them together to create “Head in the Clouds,” a pavilion people can walk into, sit inside, and contemplate just how much plastic is thrown away every day.
The structure, however, was temporary and the team is now looking for its next home. If you’re interested in having this in your back yard get in touch with the designers.
Romeo and Juliet and HAL…
Star-crossed lovers. Immaculate dance moves. Giant robots. If it sounds like the plot of the newest Guillermo del Toro movie, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. The reality, however, might be even more exciting: Tarik Abdel-Gawad, director of the award-winning projection-mapping spectacular, Box, has finally released his pre-Box masterpiece, a robot-aided update of Tchaikovsky’s ballet fantasia, Francesca da Rimini, a piece as revered for its heartwrenching subject matter as for its incredibly precise choreography. With choreography from Yuri Possokhov, and starring San Francisco Ballet dancers Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada, Abdel-Gawad took the piece one step further, employing a massive, robot-controlled camera to capture the deftness of the dance.Says Abdel-Gawad, “The film itself brings the viewer closer to a ballet performance than is possible on a stage. Using a robot allows the camera to be choreographed as well as the dancers, achieving spectacular shots designed specifically for this performance. The end result is a film that makes viewers feel they’re in the room dancing with the performers.”
Mathematicians always say math is beautiful. But for a lot of us, it can be hard to see.
In a new essay, data visualization god and New York Times Graphics Editor Mike Bostock takes us inside some of the most commonly used visualization algorithms, explaining (and more importantly, showing) how they work.
Bostock delves into some pretty esoteric stuff here–topics like sampling (simplifying images through computer code), randomness (or the lack thereof in most visual systems), and sorting (reorganizing data). But thanks to relatable visual anchors, from simple mazes to Van Gogh’s Starry Night, you’ll walk away understanding a lot of it, and appreciating the rest of it.
discovered via What Do Algorithms Look Like? | Co.Design.
Color is a really tough thing for the brain to fathom, if you think about it:
Neuroscientist Bevil Conway thinks about color for a living. An artist since youth, Conway now spends much of his time studying vision and perception at Wellesley College and Harvard Medical School. His science remains strongly linked to art–in 2004 he and Margaret Livingstone famously reported that Rembrandt may have suffered from flawed vision–and in recent years Conway has focused his research almost entirely on the neural machinery behind color.”I think it’s a very powerful system,” he tells Co.Design, “and it’s completely underexploited.”
Conway’s research into the brain’s color systems has clear value for designers and artists like himself. It stands to reason, after all, that someone who understands how the brain processes color will be able to present it to others in a more effective way. But the neuroscience of color carries larger implications for the rest of us. In fact, Conway thinks his insights into color processing may ultimately shed light on some fundamental questions about human cognition.Step back for a moment to one of Conway’s biggest findings, which came while examining how monkeys process color. Using a brain scanner, he and some collaborators found “globs” of specialized cells that detect distinct hues–suggesting that some areas of the primate brain are encoded for color. Interestingly, not all colors are given equal glob treatment. The largest neuron cluster was tuned to red, followed by green then blue; a small cell collection also cared about yellow.
Knowing that humans might also be hardwired for certain hues could be a gateway into understanding the neural properties of emotion. Since researchers know that certain colors provoke strong feelings in people–blues and purples are more pleasant than yellows, for instance, while greens tend to be the most arousing–they might then work backwards to uncover the basic mechanisms for these feelings. Designers, meanwhile, could use these emotional connections to help them match color schemes to the mood of a room or a brand or a website.
Emotions are just the start. Take, for example, the crisp and effortless way you distinguish a green from a blue. If researchers like Conway can trace the neural circuitry that guides that distinction, they might enhance our understanding of how the brain categorizes things more broadly–relevant or not relevant, left or right. From there it’s a short step to the architecture of human decision-making.
Sort of creepy but interesting exploration of the overlap of science, art, and private vs. public:
Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s “Stranger Visions” project started with a question: What could she learn about a person by collecting one of their stray hairs? In an age of ever-cheaper DNA sequencing, the answer turned out to be “a lot.” Dewey-Hagborg’s portraits of strangers, made with DNA samples found in public places, called attention to the feasibility of DNA snooping. Now with her latest project, “Invisible,” she wants to put the tools to protect genetic privacy in consumers’ hands. But is total genetic privacy really possible?
A good way of explaining pollution to people is to visualize it:
:vtol:, aka Dmitry Morozov, has previously turned tattoos into experimental instruments and highlighted the beauty of barcodes. Now, with Digioxide, the Russian artist is turning pollution recognition into tangible artwork. The portable device is equipped with sensors that measure air pollution gases and dust particles. It’s connected to a computer via bluetooth and turns information about the concentration of dust and harmful gases such as CO, CO2, HCHO, CH4 and C3H8 into generative graphics, forming an abstract image.
Digioxide has a mobile printer that allows the pollution data to be turned into physical prints of the digitized images—pixilated, colored graphics that offer a “snapshot” of the surrounding air. :vtol: explains that the tool allows users to “freely move around a city, seek out ecologically problematic places, and turn their data into digital artworks.”