Otago Polytechnic

Through collaborating with the scientists, original and often quite unexpected artwork emerged

Cross-pollination between art and science

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Peter Stupples

Cross-pollination between art and science

Can the science of light be translated into an aesthetic vocabulary? This was the challenge that Peter Stupples, Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory at the Dunedin School of Art, tasked a team of artists with, in celebration of the 2015 UNESCO International Year of Light.

Peter worked with a team of science researchers from the University of Otago, headed by Professor David Hutchinson of the Department of Physics. In conjunction with Dr Ian Griffin from Otago Museum, this nine-month project culminated in an exciting exhibition in August 2015.

“We did not aim to illustrate the science literally” says Peter. “Rather, through collaborating with the scientists, original and often quite unexpected artwork emerged, which enabled the scientists to see their work in a different context.”

The collaboration involved a group of 16 artists – including painters, printmakers, sculptors, photographers, creators of electronic installations, ceramicists and fashion textile designers – and 11 scientists from a variety of disciplines including botany, physics, anatomy, physiology and computer science. For the science community it was a unique opportunity to have the work communicated to the public in a novel way, while for the artists it provided a stimulating new focus for their work and many learnt an enormous amount about science in the process.

“We know of no other collaboration of art and science that takes the same shape as this so it was truly an exciting venture,” says Peter. “Part of the success of this was that we didn’t put too many rules or boundaries on what was possible or expected.”

 

Art and Light Exhibition. Otago Museum, 15 – 30 August 2015.

Student

Cross-pollination between art and science

Study

Peter Stupples