Category Archives: Visual Art

A biochemical means of protecting passwords and anti-counterfeiting solution for art and other precious goods

I guess you could say my passwords are as precious to me as a piece.of art is to some people.

DNA can be used to confirm the authenticity of valuable art prints. (AI-​generated image: ETH Zurich)

An April 8, 2024 ETH Zurich press release (also on EurekAlert) by Fabio Bergamin features an approach that could make passwords secure from quantum computers, Note: A link has been removed,

Security experts fear Q-​Day, the day when quantum computers become so powerful that they can crack today’s passwords. Some experts estimate that this day will come within the next ten years. Password checks are based on cryptographic one-​way functions, which calculate an output value from an input value. This makes it possible to check the validity of a password without transmitting the password itself: the one-​way function converts the password into an output value that can then be used to check its validity in, say, online banking. What makes one-​way functions special is that it’s impossible to use their output value to deduce the input value – in other words, the password. At least not with today’s resources. However, future quantum computers could make this kind of inverse calculation easier.

Researchers at ETH Zurich have now presented a cryptographic one-​way function that works differently from today’s and will also be secure in the future. Rather than processing the data using arithmetic operations, it is stored as a sequence of nucleotides – the chemical building blocks of DNA.

Based on true randomness

“Our system is based on true randomness. The input and output values are physically linked, and it’s only possible to get from the input value to the output value, not the other way round,” explains Robert Grass, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences. “Since it’s a physical system and not a digital one, it can’t be decoded by an algorithm, not even by one that runs on a quantum computer,” adds Anne Lüscher, a doctoral student in Grass’s group. She is the lead author of the paper, which was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers’ new system can serve as a counterfeit-​proof way of certifying the authenticity of valuable objects such as works of art. The technology could also be used to trace raw materials and industrial products.

How it works

The new biochemical one-​way function is based on a pool of one hundred million different DNA molecules. Each of the molecules contains two segments featuring a random sequence of nucleotides: one segment for the input value and one for the output value. There are several hundred identical copies of each of these DNA molecules in the pool, and the pool can also be divided into several pools; these are identical because they contain the same random DNA molecules. The pools can be located in different places, or they can be built into objects.

Anyone in possession of this DNA pool holds the security system’s lock. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be used to test a key, or input value, which takes the form of a short sequence of nucleotides. During the PCR, this key searches the pool of hundreds of millions of DNA molecules for the molecule with the matching input value, and the PCR then amplifies the output value located on the same molecule. DNA sequencing is used to make the output value readable.

At first glance, the principle seems complicated. “However, producing DNA molecules with built-​in randomness is cheap and easy,” Grass says. The production costs for a DNA pool that can be divided up in this way are less than 1 Swiss franc. Using DNA sequencing to read out the output value is more time-​consuming and expensive, but many biology laboratories already possess the necessary equipment.

Securing valuable goods and supply chains

ETH Zurich has applied for a patent on this new technology. The researchers now want to optimise and refine it to bring it to market. Because using the method calls for specialised laboratory infrastructure, the scientists think the most likely application for this form of password verification is currently for highly sensitive goods or for access to buildings with restricted access. This technology won’t be an option for the broader public to check passwords until DNA sequencing in particular becomes easier.

A little more thought has already gone into the idea of using the technology for the forgery-​proof certification of works of art. For instance, if there are ten copies of a picture, the artist can mark them all with the DNA pool – perhaps by mixing the DNA into the paint, spraying it onto the picture or applying it to a specific spot.

If several owners later wish to have the authenticity of these artworks confirmed, they can get together, agree on a key (i.e. an input value) and carry out the DNA test. All the copies for which the test produces the same output value will have been proven genuine. The new technology could also be used to link crypto-​assets such as NFTs, which exist only in the digital world, to an object and thus to the physical world.

Furthermore, it would support counterfeit-​proof tracking along supply chains of industrial goods or raw materials. “The aviation industry, for example, has to be able to provide complete proof that it uses only original components. Our technology can guarantee traceability,” Grass says. In addition, the method could be used to label the authenticity of original medicines or cosmetics.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Chemical unclonable functions based on operable random DNA pools by Anne M. Luescher, Andreas L. Gimpel, Wendelin J. Stark, Reinhard Heckel & Robert N. Grass. Nature Communications volume 15, Article number: 2955 (2024) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-47187-7 Published: 05 April 2024

This paper is open access.

New York City’s Guggenheim (art) Museum celebrates Earth Day on April 22, 2024 with poetry and more

The Guggenheim’s Earth Day celebrations feature artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña’s “The Quipu of Encounters” series. Here’s an example,

An Inca quipu, from the Larco Museum in Lima (Peru).Claus Ableiter nur hochgeladen aus enWiki – enWiki, hochgeladen von User Lyndsaruell [downloaded from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quipu] CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Inca Quipu.jpg Created: 29 October 2007 Uploaded: 28 October 2007

For anyone unfamiliar with a quipu, here’s a description from the Quipu Wikipedia entry, Note: Links have been removed,

A quipu usually consisted of cotton or camelid fiber strings. The Inca people used quipu for collecting data and keeping records, for monitoring tax obligations, for collecting census records, for calendrical information, and for military organization.[2] The cords stored numeric and other values encoded as knots, often in a base-ten positional system. A quipu could have only a few or thousands of cords.[3] The configuration of the quipu has been “compared to string mops”.[4] Archaeological evidence has also shown the use of finely carved wood as a supplemental, and perhaps sturdier, base to which the color-coded cords could be attached.[5] A relatively small number have survived.

Recently (and relevantly to Vicuña’s project), I came across a suggestion that quipu weren’t used for numerical storage only, from Silvia Ferrara’s March 8, 2022 article “How The Inca Used Knots To Tell Stories” for LitHub,

Because quipu aren’t limited to numbers. A third of these knotted necklaces are narrative. It’s hard even to imagine that a story could be told using a series of colored knots that represent numbers, but it is so. Names, places, genealogies, songs—all are recited like so many zip codes, credit-card numbers, telephone numbers, yellow, green, and blue numbers. Because numbers, for the Inca, speak not only of quantity but of quality. I know, it’s not easy to grasp, but let your imagination run free a little.

The knots are 3D, so they have form, direction, relative position, color, thickness, multiple configurations. Each element carries a different meaning: far from the body, close to the body—these distances affect what quantity is recorded. A three-dimensional Sudoku. Multivalent, multi-referential, and yet at the same time precise. According to Spanish accounts from the mid-16th century, quipu were on par with the Old World’s most complex scripts. One Jesuit missionary tells of an Inca woman who brought him a quipu bearing her entire life story. In knots. Incredible.

Indeed, the details of how this could have been possible are lost to us, since we don’t have the legend that reveals the links among these elements (dimension, thickness, color, number, direction, etc.) and their precise meaning. We’re in need of a decoder, an Inca Rosetta stone to unveil the correlations. …

The Guggenheim and Earth Day 2024

The April 16, 2024 Guggenhein Museum announcement of City-wide activations for Earth Week (2024), also received via email, starts with a poetry event and continues with a listing of New York City partner events, Note: I suspect the links are time sensitive,

Academy of American Poets x Guggenheim

Monday, April 22 [2024]

On April 22, Earth Day, join us online for poetry in response to the climate crisis.

“entwine / the betwixt,” writes artist and activist Cecilia Vicuña in her poem “Three Fragments of Instan.” We are interconnected in our struggle for environmental justice. Together, we seek ways to convey the reality of our current global climate emergency. The Academy of American Poets invites a community of poets to write a new collaborative poem—a choral braid of voices—presented at Poets.org on Earth Day, along with a video recording of their contributions.

Here (on poets.org) is where you can find the video recording of the poets (Nickole Brown, J. P. Grasser, John James, and Ariel Francisco) responding to “time bending / tongue / entwine / the betwixt” for Earth Day 2024.

Before moving onto the list of partner Earth Day 2024 events, the stage is set, from the April 16, 2024 Guggenhein Museum announcement of City-wide activations for Earth Week (2024, Note: I suspect the links are time sensitive,

The Quipu of Encounters

Over the past six months, representatives from various arts and community organizations, along with artists, poets, writers, and musicians, participated in a series of workshops led by artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña at the Wassaic Project and the Guggenheim Museum. Conceived by Vicuña as part of her ongoing “Quipu of Encounters” series, the workshops used ritual and communion as a means to propose ways of being and acting, as individuals and within collectives, in response to the current climate crisis. Among the many themes that emerged were tools and strategies that the cultural sector might use to inspire action in others.

Explore below how our partners will be applying learnings from these workshops through public offerings with a focus on climate justice, sustainability, ecology, and Indigenous practices.

Around Town

Earth Month activities from our partners

Whitney Museum of American Art

Open Studio

   Saturday, April 20

   11 am

Families with kids of all ages are invited to make works of art using natural pigments found in soil and plants inspired by Whitney Biennial artist Dala Nasser. 

More info and register

Brooklyn Public Library

Various branches of the Brooklyn Public Library will present programming during Earth Month, offering opportunities for folks of all ages to connect across themes of environmentalism, crafting, storytelling, and community. 

Earth Day Crafts: Make a Recycled Notebook

   Brooklyn Heights Library, Craft Room

   Friday, April 19, 1 pm

Garden Storytime at Wycoff Bond Garden

   Wyckoff Bond Garden

   Saturday, April 20, 1 pm

15 Ways to Explore Nearby Nature

   Central Library, Info Commons Lab

   Saturday, April 20, 2 pm

Earth Day: Story and Craft

   Brownsville Library

   Monday, April 22, 3 pm

Brooklyn Public Library with the Fort Greene Park Conservancy: Earth Day Festival

   Fort Greene Park

   Saturday, April 27, 11 am

More info →

Dia Art Foundation

Saturday Studio on the Farm

   Saturday, April 27

   10:30 am

Join a practicing artist for an outdoor workshop of art making, material experimentation, and play, offered in partnership with Common Ground Farm in the Hudson Valley. Designed for all ages, Saturday Studio is a family-friendly program that is most suitable for children ages five and up.

More info and register →

GrowNYC

Join Our Climate and GrowNYC for a two-part series where we will come together to explore the boundless possibilities of a sustainable and equitable future for New York City through transformative policies, collective action, and joy.

More info and register →

GrowNYC

   Ongoing

Using techniques learned by the Beauty Turner Academy, a program hosted and facilitated by the National Public Housing Museum, GrowNYC’s Gardens at NYCHA program will engage various NYCHA residents in sharing their ethos for community work through Oral History as Art, highlighting environmental programming currently happening in their communities, and commemorating their stories for those seeking active and tangible change in NYCHA communities and beyond. The project will eventually result in a public film screening. GrowNYC is honored to uplift their collaborative partnership with photographer and writer J Owens, who uses words and images to explore the human experience and paint extraordinary pictures of ordinary places.

Watch the first iteration of Oral History as Art →

Learn more about GrowNYC’s Gardens at NYCHA →

Creative Time HQ

Visit the CTHQ website for a full list of activities and programs.

More info →

You can find out more about Earth Day here. If you scroll down there’s a worldwide map with Earth Day 2024 events marked on it. Yes, mostly featuring events in the US and Europe but other parts of the world are also represented.

Venice Biennale 2024 (April 20 – November 24, 2024)

Every once in a while I get an email from a lawyer (Gale P. Eston) in New York City who specializes in the art and business communities. How I got on her list is a mystery to me but her missives are always interesting. The latest one was a little difficult to understand until I looked at the Venice Biennale website and saw the theme for this year’s exhibition,

Courtesy: Venice Biennale [downloaded from https://www.labiennale.org/en/news/biennale-arte-2024-stranieri-ovunque-foreigners-everywhere]

Biennale Arte 2024: Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere

The 60th International Art Exhibition, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, will be open from Saturday 20 April to Sunday 24 November at the Giardini and Arsenale venues.

The 60th International Art Exhibition, titled Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere, will open to the public from Saturday April 20 to Sunday November 24, 2024, at the Giardini and the Arsenale; it will be curated by Adriano Pedrosa and organised by La Biennale di Venezia. The pre-opening will take place on April 17, 18 and 19; the awards ceremony and inauguration will be held on 20 April 2024.

Since 2021, La Biennale di Venezia launched a plan to reconsider all of its activities in light of recognized and consolidated principles of environmental sustainability. For the year 2024, the goal is to extend the achievement of “carbon neutrality” certification, which was obtained in 2023 for La Biennale’s scheduled activities: the 80th Venice International Film Festival, the Theatre, Music and Dance Festivals and, in particular, the 18th International Architecture Exhibition which was the first major Exhibition in this discipline to test in the field a tangible process for achieving carbon neutrality – while furthermore itself reflecting upon the themes of decolonisation and decarbonisation

The Exhibition will take place in the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and in the Arsenale, and it will present two sections: the Nucleo Contemporaneo and the Nucleo Storico.

As a guiding principle, the Biennale Arte 2024 has favored artists who have never participated in the International Exhibition—though a number of them may have been featured in a National Pavilion, a Collateral Event, or in a past edition of the International Exhibition. Special attention is being given to outdoor projects, both in the Arsenale and in the Giardini, where a performance program is being planned with events during the pre-opening and closing weekend of the 60th Exhibition.

Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere, the title of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, is drawn from a series of works started in 2004 by the Paris-born and Palermo-based Claire Fontaine collective. The works consist of neon sculptures in different colours that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere”. The phrase comes, in turn, from the name of a Turin collective who fought racism and xenophobia in Italy in the early 2000s.

«The expression Stranieri Ovunque – explains Adriano Pedrosa – has several meanings. First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners— they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.»

«The Italian straniero, the Portuguese estrangeiro, the French étranger, and the Spanish extranjero, are all etymologically connected to the strano, the estranho, the étrange, the extraño, respectively, which is precisely the stranger. Sigmund Freud’s Das Unheimliche comes to mind—The Uncanny in English, which in Portuguese has indeed been translated as “o estranho”– the strange that is also familiar, within, deep down side. According to the American Heritage and the Oxford Dictionaries, the first meaning of the word “queer” is precisely “strange”, and thus the Exhibition unfolds and focuses on the production of other related subjects: the queer artist, who has moved within different sexualities and genders, often being persecuted or outlawed; the outsider artist, who is located at the margins of the art world, much like the self-taught artist, the folk artist and the artista popular; the indigenous artist, frequently treated as a foreigner in his or her own land. The productions of these four subjects are the interest of this Biennale, constituting the Nucleo Contemporaneo

«Indigenous artists have an emblematic presence and their work greets the public in the Central Pavilion, where the Mahku collective from Brazil will paint a monumental mural on the building’s façade, and in the Corderie, where the Maataho collective from Aotearoa/New Zealand will present a large-scale installation in the first room. Queer artists appear throughout the exhibition, and are also the subject of a large section in the Corderie, and one devoted to queer abstraction in the Central Pavilion.»

The Nucleo Contemporaneo will feature a special section in the Corderie devoted to the Disobedience Archive, a project by Marco Scotini, which since 2005 has been developing a video archive focusing on the relationships between artistic practices and activism. In the Exhibition, the presentation of the Disobedience Archive is designed by Juliana Ziebell, who also worked in the exhibition architecture of the entire International Exhibition. This section is divided into two main parts especially conceived for our framework: Diaspora activism and Gender Disobedience. The Disobedience Archive will include works by 39 artists and collectives made between 1975 and 2023.»

«The Nucleo Storico gathering works from 20th century Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Much has been written about global modernisms and modernisms in the Global South, and a number of rooms will feature works from these territories, much like an essay, a draft, a speculative curatorial exercise that seeks to question the boundaries and definitions of modernism. We are all too familiar with the histories of modernism in Euroamerica, yet the modernisms in the Global South remain largely unknown. […]. European modernism itself travelled far beyond Europe throughout the 20th century, often intertwined with colonialism, and many artists in the Global South traveled to Europe to be exposed to it […].»

In the Central Pavilion three rooms are planned for the Nucleo Storico: one room is titled Portraits, one Abstractions and the third one is devoted to the the worldwide Italian artistic diaspora in the 20th century.

«The double-room named Portraits, includes works from 112 artists, mostly paintings but also works on paper and sculpture, spanning the years of 1905 and 1990. […] The theme of the human figure has been explored in countless different ways by artists in the Global South, reflecting on the crisis of representation around the that very figure that marked much of the art in 20th century art. In the Global South, many artists were in touch with European modernism, through travels, studies or books, yet they bring in their own highly personal and powerful reflections and contributions to their works […]. The room devoted to Abstractions includes 37 artists: most of them are being exhibited together for the first time, and we will learn from these unforeseen juxtapositions in the flesh, which will then hopefully point towards new connections, associations, and parallels much beyond the rather straightforward categories that I have proposed. […]»

Artists from Singapore and Korea have been brought into this section, given that at the time they were part of the so-called Third World. In a similar manner, Selwyn Wilson and Sandy Adsett, from Aotearoa/New Zealand, have been brought into this Nucleo Storico as they are historical Maori artists.

«[…] A third room in the Nucleo Storico is dedicated to the worldwide Italian artistic diaspora in the 20th century: Italian artists who travelled and moved abroad developing their careers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as in the rest of Europe and the United States, becoming embedded in local cultures—and who often played significant roles in the development of the narratives of modernism beyond Italy. This room will feature works by 40 artists who are first or second generations Italians, exhibited in Lina Bo Bardi’s glass easel display system (Bo Bardi herself an Italian who moved to Brazil, and who won the 2021 Biennale Architettura’s Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Memoriam).»

«Two quite different but related elements have emerged – underlines Pedrosa – rather organically in the research and have been developed, appearing as leitmotivs throughout the International Exhibition. The first one is textiles, which have been explored by many artists in the show in multiple, from key historical figures in the Nucleo Storico, to many artists in the Nucleo Contemporaneo. […] These works reveal an interest in craft, tradition, and the handmade, and in techniques that were at times considered other or foreign, outsider or strange in the larger field of fine arts. […] A second motif is artists—artists related by blood, many of them Indigenous. […] Again tradition plays an important role here: the transmission of knowledge and practices from father or mother to son or daughter or among siblings and relatives.»

There’s a lot more about this huge art exhibition on the Venice Biennale website but this is enough to give you a sense of the size and scope and how the work Eston describes fits into the 2024 exhibition theme.

Gale P. Eston‘s April 12, 2024 email announced an exhibition she curated and which is being held on site during the 2024 Venice Biennale (Note 1: I’ve published too late for the opening reception but there’s more to Eston’s curation than a reception; Note 2: There is an art/science aspect to the work from artist China Blue),

Hospitality in the Pluriverse, curated by Gale Elston during the 60th edition of the Venice Biennial from April 16 to May 4, 2024.

The Opening Reception will be held April 16th, 2024 from 5-7 pm

HOSPITALITY IN THE PLURIVERSE

JEREMY DENNIS

ANITA GLESTA

ANN MCCOY

WARREN NEIDICH

ILONA RICH

Corte de Ca’ Sarasina, Castello 1199, Venezia, IT, 30122

April 16 to May 4, 2024

OPENING RECEPTION: April 16, 5 to 7 PM

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-6 PM

Performances by CHINA BLUE curated by Elga Wimmer

April 16, 18 and 19 at 6 PM

RAINER GANAHL, Requiem, performed April 17 at 6 PM

This exhibition includes five artists who explore the political, historical, aesthetical, physical, and epistemological dimensions of hospitality and its’ conflicts. Based upon the analysis of Jacques Derrida, in his Of Hospitality, this exhibition scrutinizes the reaction of the host to alterity or otherness.

Each artist examines various questions surrounding the encounter of a foreigner and their host sovereign using a variety of media such as painting, photography, sculpture, and animation.

In discussion with Adriano Pedrosa’s exhibition Foreigners Everywhere, the exhibition Hospitality in the Pluriverse understands the complexity of immigration and begs the question of what hospitality is and when and how should it be extended to the stranger, the foreigner, the “other”.

On the one hand the devastating effects of global inequality, climate change (climate refugees) and the political pressures created have led to mass migration and political and chaos. In opposition, the richness of the contributions of the other in the form of cultural and epistemological multiplicity is invaluable.

Jeremy Dennis, First Nation artist and Tribal Member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY, uses staging and computer assisted techniques to create unusual color photographs which portray indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. His photographs challenge how indigenous people have been presented in film in America Westerns as well as empowering them through the use of a haunting Zombie trope establishing the power of ancestral knowledge as a means of resistance.

Ann McCoy, a New York-based sculptor, painter, and art critic, and Editor-at- Large for the Brooklyn Rail includes a new drawing from her recent Guggenheim Fellowship exploring the fairy tale of a wolf in her father’s silver, gold and tungsten mill. The fairy tale is based on an historic site of many Irish immigrant workers’ deaths and expresses the tragedy using Jungian and alchemical references.

Warren Neidich’s work Pluriverse* engages with the concept of cognitive justice. As Bonaventure de Sousa Santos has said there can be no social justice without cognitive justice. Cognitive which includes the right of different traditions of knowledge and the cultural practices they are engaged with to co-exist without duress. Especially relevant for us here are those forms of knowledge that have evolved in the so-called enlightened global North, Indigenous Knowledges and those in the subaltern global South and Asia. Pluriverse is an expression that is inclusive of these diverse epistemologies. We don’t want to live in a normative, homogeneous Universe but rather a heterogeneous and multiplicitous Pluriverse.*

Anita Glesta, depicts the non-human foreigner (a corona virus moving through the body like a bug or a butterfly) set to a soundtrack from Hildegard von Bingen, the abbess and composer from the medieval ages. Glesta’s video was developed on a Fellowship with The ARC Laureate Felt Experience & Empathy Lab to research how anxiety affects our nervous system. As an extension of the pandemic series her animations invite the viewer to experience how humans process fear and anxiety in their bodies.

Spanish artist Ilona Rich work continues the theme of what it is to be a foreigner on a psychological level. Her colorful sculptures describe a dystopian view of the commonplace and the everyday.

Her work shows us a person who feels like a stranger in their own skin, anxious, precarious, not normative. Her dogs have two heads and the many feet of a centipede. Her sculpture Wheel of Fortune will be displayed which posits that fate is contingent on chance and our roles as host or foreigner are subject to rapid unexpected change.

The exhibition offers a dizzying study of alterity, on the biological (Glesta), the social (Dennis), the historical (McCoy), cognitive (Neidich) and personal levels (Rich).The viewer will come away with an expanded and enriched view of what it means to be a foreigner and asks what contingencies, if any, should accompany hospitality.

— Gale Elston

China Blue, Saturn Walk: Embodying Listening during the 2024 Venice Biennial with (Re)Create [emphasis mine]

Project Space Venice, curated by Elga Wimmer.

US/Canadian artist China Blue creates art performances that give a physical expression to sound based on her interest in connecting through art and science.

For her 2024 Venice exhibition, Saturn Walk: Embodying Listening by China Blue, performers and visitors walk in a labyrinth to a composition created by her and Lance Massey. This is a work based on the sonics in Saturn’s rings that China Blue and Dr. Seth Horowitz discovered as a result of a grant from NASA to explore Saturn’s rings.

In Saturn Walk: Embodying Listening for the (Re)Create Project Space Venice, the artist invites viewers to experience the sound walk following the dance performance. The dancers include Andrea Nann and Jennifer Dahl, Canada, and Laura Coloman, UK. A trace of China Blue’s performance, an artwork, Celestial Pearls, based on 16 of Saturn’s 100+ moons, will remain on view at (Re)Create Project Space Venice.

Austrian artist Rainer Ganahl performs his work, Requiem in memoriam for Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

It seems like you might need the full seven months to fully appreciate the work on display at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Dendritic painting: a physics story

A March 4, 2024 news item on phys.org announces research into the physics of using paints and inks in visual art, Note: A link has been removed,

Falling from the tip of a brush suspended in mid-air, an ink droplet touches a painted surface and blossoms into a masterpiece of ever-changing beauty. It weaves a tapestry of intricate, evolving patterns. Some of them resemble branching snowflakes, thunderbolts or neurons, whispering the unique expression of the artist’s vision.

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) researchers set out to analyze the physical principles of this fascinating technique, known as dendritic painting. They took inspiration from the artwork of Japanese media artist, Akiko Nakayama. The work is published in the journal PNAS Nexus.

Caption: Japanese artist Akiko Nakayama manipulates alcohol and inks to create tree-like dendritic patterns during a live painting session. Credit: Photo Credit: Akiko Nakayama

Yes, the ends definitely look tree-like (maybe cedar). A February 29, 2024 Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) press release (also on EurekAlert but published March 1, 2024), which originated the news item, goes on to describe the forces at work and provides instructions for creating your own dendritic paintings, Note: Links have been removed,

During her [Akiko Nakayama] live painting performances, she applies colourful droplets of acrylic ink mixed with alcohol atop a flat surface coated with a layer of acrylic paint. Beautiful fractals – tree-like geometrical shapes that repeat at different scales and are often found in nature – appear before the eyes of the audience. This is a captivating art form driven by creativity, but also by the physics of fluid dynamics.

“I have a deep admiration for scientists, such as Ukichiro Nakaya and Torahiko Terada, who made remarkable contributions to both science and art. I was very happy to be contacted by OIST physicist Chan San To. I am envious of his ability ‘to dialogue’ with the dendritic patterns, observing how they change shape in response to different approaches. Hearing this secret conversation was delightful,” explains Nakayama.

“Painters have often employed fluid mechanics to craft unique compositions. We have seen it with David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jackson Pollock, and Naoko Tosa, just to name a few. In our laboratory, we reproduce and study artistic techniques, to understand how the characteristics of the fluids influence the final outcome,” says OIST Professor Eliot Fried of OIST’s Mechanics and Materials Unit, who likes looking at dendritic paintings from artistic and scientific angles.

In dendritic painting, the droplets made of ink and alcohol experience various forces. One of them is surface tension – the force that makes rain droplets spherical in shape, and allows leaves to float on the surface of a pond. In particular, as alcohol evaporates faster than water, it alters the surface tension of the droplet. Fluid molecules tend to be pulled towards the droplet rim, which has higher surface tension compared to its centre. This is called the Marangoni effect and is the same phenomenon responsible for the formation of wine tears – the droplets or streaks of wine that form on the inside of a wine glass after swirling or tilting.

Secondly, the underlying paint layer also plays an important part in this artistic technique. Dr. Chan tested various types of liquids. For fractals to emerge, the liquid must be a fluid that decreases in viscosity under shear strain, meaning it has to behave somewhat like ketchup. It’s common knowledge that it’s hard to get ketchup out of the bottle unless you shake it. This happens because ketchup’s viscosity changes depending on shear strain. When you shake the bottle, the ketchup becomes less viscous, making it easier to pour it onto your dish. How is this applied to dendritic painting?

“In dendritic painting, the expanding ink droplet shears the underlying acrylic paint layer. It is not as strong as the shaking of a ketchup bottle, but it is still a form of shear strain. As with ketchup, the more stress there is, the easier it is for the ink droplets to flow,” explains Dr. Chan.

“We also showed that the physics behind this dendritic painting technique is similar to how liquid travels in a porous medium, such as soil. If you were to look at the mix of acrylic paint under the microscope, you would see a network of microscopic structures made of polymer molecules and pigments. The ink droplet tends to find its way through this underlying network, travelling through paths of least resistance, that leads to the dendritic pattern,” adds Prof. Fried.

Each dendritic print is one-of-a-kind, but there are at least two key aspects that artists can take into consideration to control the outcome of dendritic painting. The first and most important factor is the thickness of the paint layer spread on the surface. Dr. Chan observed that well-refined fractals appear with paint layer thinner than a half millimetre.

The second factor to experiment with is the concentration of diluting medium and paint in this paint layer. Dr. Chan obtained the most detailed fractals using three parts diluting medium and one part paint, or two parts diluting medium and one part paint. If the concentration of paint is higher, the droplet cannot spread well. Conversely, if the concentration of paint is lower, fuzzy edges will form. 

This is not the first science-meets-art project that members of the Mechanics and Materials Unit have embarked on. For example, they designed and installed a mobile sculpture on the OIST campus. The sculpture exemplifies a family of mechanical devices, called Möbius kaleidocycles, invented in the Unit, which may offer guidelines for designing chemical compounds with novel electronic properties.

Currently, Dr. Chan is also developing novel methods of analysing how the complexity of a sketch or painting evolves during its creation. He and Prof. Fried are optimistic that these methods might be applied to uncover hidden structures in experimentally captured or numerically generated images of flowing fluids.

“Why should we confine science to just technological progress?” wonders Dr. Chan. “I like exploring its potential to drive artistic innovation as well. I do digital art, but I really admire traditional artists. I sincerely invite them to experiment with various materials and reach out to us if they’re interested in collaborating and exploring the physics hidden within their artwork.”

Instructions to create dendritic painting at home

Everybody can have fun creating dendritic paintings. The materials needed include a non-absorbent surface (glass, synthetic paper, ceramics, etc.), a brush, a hairbrush, rubbing alcohol (iso-propyl alcohol), acrylic ink, acrylic paint and pouring medium.

  1. Dilute one part of acrylic paint to two or three parts of  pouring medium, or test other ratios to see how the result changes
  2. Apply this to the non-absorbent surface uniformly using a hairbrush. OIST physicists have found out that the thickness of the paint affects the result. For the best fractals, a layer of paint thinner than half millimetre is recommended.
  3. Mix rubbing alcohol with acrylic ink. The density of the ink may differ for different brands: have a try mixing alcohol and ink in different ratios
  4. When the white paint is still wet (hasn’t dried yet), apply a droplet of the ink with alcohol mix using a brush or another tool, such as a bamboo stick or a toothpick.
  5. Enjoy your masterpiece as it develops before your eyes. 

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Marangoni spreading on liquid substrates in new media art by San To Chan and Eliot Fried. PNAS Nexus, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2024, pgae059 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae059 Published: 08 February 2024

This paper is open access.

February 1, 2024 talk about ‘CULTUS’: a scifi, queer art installation at the University of British Columbia’s Belkin Gallery in Vancouver, Canada

Spanning religiosity, science fiction, contemporary perspectives on artificial intelligence, and the techno-industrial complex, artist Zach Blas and writer/editor Jayne Wilkinson will be discussing CULTUS, an art installation currently being shown as part of the Belkin Gallery’s January 12 – April 14, 2024 exhibition, Aporia (Notes to a Medium),

Zach Blas, CULTUS , 2023, from the 2024 exhibition at Arebyte Gallery, London, UK. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Max Colson

Here’s what the folks at the Belkin Art Gallery (Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery) had to say in their January 30, 2024 announcement (received via email),

Artist Talk with Zach Blas and Jayne Wilkinson

Thursday, February 1 at 5 pm 

Please join us for a lecture by interdisciplinary artist Zach Blas, with a dialogue to follow with writer/editor Jayne Wilkinson. Blas will discuss his most recent work, CULTUS, the second in a trilogy of queer science-fiction installations addressing the beliefs, fantasies and histories that are influential to the contemporary tech industry. CULTUS (the Latin word for “worship”) considers the God-like status often afforded to artificial intelligence (AI) and examines how this religiosity is marshalled to serve beliefs about judgement and transcendence, extraction and immortality, pleasure and punishment, individual freedom and cult devotion. The conversation to follow will address some of the pressing intersecting political and ethical questions raised by both using and critiquing contemporary image technologies like AI.

This conversation will be audio-recorded; email us at belkin.gallery@ubc.ca if you are interested in listening to the recording following the event.

This talk is presented in conjunction with the Belkin’s exhibition Aporia (Notes to a Medium) and Critical Image Forum, a collaboration between the Belkin and the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at UBC.

For anyone (like me) who’s never heard of either Blas or Wilkinson, there’s more on the Belkin’s event page,

Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker and writer whose practice draws out the philosophies and imaginaries residing in computational technologies and their industries. Working across moving image, computation, installation, theory and performance, Blas has exhibited, lectured and held screenings at venues including the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Tate Modern, 12th Gwangju Biennale and e-flux. His 2021 artist monograph Unknown Ideals is published by Sternberg Press. Blas is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto.

Jayne Wilkinson is a Toronto-based art writer and editor.

Should you be interested in attending the talk and/or the exhibition, here are some directions, from the Belkin Gallery’s Visit webpage,

Directions

The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery is located at the University of British Columbia Vancouver campus, 1825 Main Mall, Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z2

Open in Maps

By Public Transit

TransLink offers many routes to UBC, including several express services (44, 84, R4, 99). The UBC Bus Loop is the last stop for each of these buses, and is located in the central area of campus near the AMS Nest. To get to the gallery, walk west on University Boulevard. (about 1 block) until you reach Main Mall. Turn right onto Main Mall and continue for about 3 blocks until you reach Crescent Road. We are located on your left at the corner of Main Mall and Crescent Road, near the Flagpole Plaza.

By Car

From downtown Vancouver, proceed west on West 4th Avenue, which becomes Chancellor Blvd and then merges with NW Marine Drive. Continue west on NW Marine Drive, to the Rose Garden Parkade (on your left).

From the airport, proceed to SW Marine Drive. Stay on SW Marine Drive, which eventually merges with NW Marine Drive. Continue just past the Museum of Anthropology (on your left) to the Rose Garden Parkade (on your right).

Accessibility

Entrance

The Belkin is wheelchair accessible. The main entrance is located on the east side of the building next to Main Mall. For people requiring wheelchair or easier accessibility, use the ramp from Crescent Road to access the main gallery doors.  This entrance is level and accessible and has both a revolving door and a powered wheelchair-accessible door.

Washrooms

Washrooms are all-gender and include two multi-stall washrooms with wheelchair-accessible stalls and one stand-alone washroom that is wheelchair accessible.

Seating

Portable gallery stools are available for use.

Large Print Materials

Large print materials are available.

ASL Interpretation

ASL interpreters are available upon request for Belkin programs and events. To request interpretation for an event or tour, please contact us in advance.

Service Animals

Service dogs are welcome to accompany visitors.

Scent

The Belkin’s office is scent free. Occasionally, there are works or projects that are scent-focused.

Please ask our staff if you require any assistance or have any questions.

Admission to the gallery is free.

Hilma af Klint, VR (virtual reality), and atoms

I’m primarily interested in the VR and the ‘atoms’ of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint but first there are the NFT (non-fungible tokens). From an October 28, 2022 article by Louis Jebb for The Art Newspaper,

More than a century after she completed her chef d’oeuvre—193 abstract canvases known collectively as Paintings for the Temple (1906-15)—Hilma af Klint has emerged this year as a multimedia power player. Her work—graphic, colourful and deeply idiosyncratic—has demonstrated a Van Gogh-like power to generate footfall and has given rise to projects across multiple formats, from books and films to experiences in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

Now, from 14 November [2022], digital versions of all 193 of her Paintings for the Temple, created by Acute Art, will be offered as NFTs in one edition, for sale on Goda (Gallery of Digital Assets), the platform launched earlier this year by the multi-Grammy award-winning philanthropist and recording artist Pharrell Williams. A second edition of the NFTs will remain with Bokförlaget Stolpe, the publishers of the Af Klint catalogue raisonée. The originals belong to the not-for-profit Hilma af Klint Foundation in Sweden.

“Hilma af Klint was an incredible pioneer!” says Pharrell Williams. “It took us a century to fully understand. Now that we do, we need to rewrite art history! Beautiful and meaningful art truly transcends time, and Hilma af Klint’s work is a perfect example of that. We’re honoured to show her work on this platform and to truly celebrate a remarkable woman.” For KAWS, who acts as an art adviser on the Goda platform, Af Klint was a visionary. “I find it great that she finally gets the attention she deserves,” KAWS says. “During her lifetime the audience wasn’t ready but today we are. She painted for the future. She painted for us!”

VR

Hilma af Klint dreamt of a spiral shaped building to house her most important work, but the idea never materialised. More than a century later, af Klint’s vision has been translated into a VR experience where some of her most important paintings come alive. Hilma af Klint – The Temple is produced in collaboration with [Bokförlaget Stolpe and] Acute Art and premiered at Koko Camden during the Frieze Art Fair 2022. The virtual reality work Hilma af Klint – The Temple is a 12-minute VR experience which includes 193 of Hilma af Klint’s paintings in a format that transcends time and space and makes a significant portion of her artistic output available to the public.

Hilma af Klint – The Temple VR was on tour since it first debuted in 2022 and Elissaveta M. Brandon wrote up her experience in New York City in a October 25, 2023 article for Fast Company, Note: Links have been removed,

It is noon on a Tuesday, and I am sitting in a cocktail bar. But instead of a Negroni on my table, there is a VR headset.

The reason for this anomaly dates back to 1915, when the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint completed a series of paintings titled, Paintings for the Temple. The artist died in 1944, but from the 124 notebooks she left behind, we know that she dreamed of housing these paintings in a spiral-shaped building known as the Temple.

That building never materialized in real life, but it has now—in virtual reality.

Af Klint, which The Art Newspaper has described as “the mystic Swedish mother of early-modern abstraction,” is having a bit of a moment. A museum dedicated solely to her work remains to be built, but over the past few years, the artist has been the subject of a sprawling exhibition at the Guggenheim, a biopic, a new biography, a catalogue raisonné (a comprehensive, annotated list of all known works by the artist), an augmented reality “art walk” in London’s Regent’s Park, and now, a virtual reality temple.

The VR experience—I lack the words to describe it in any other way—is titled, Hilma af Klint: The Temple and lasts 12 minutes. It was conceived by the London-based extended-reality studio Acute Art in collaboration with [Bokförlaget] Stolpe Publishing. After various stints at the Tate Modern in London, the Institut Suédois in Paris, and Bozar in Brussels, it has now arrived at the Fotografiska Museum in New York City, where it is on view until November 19 [2023], inside a cocktail bar, which is tucked away behind a door in the museum’s lobby, and fittingly called Chapel Bar.

The artist left behind a large body of abstract work inspired by her spiritual encounters. Her series, Paintings for the Temple, was, in fact, born out of a séance, during which she was asked to take on a more extensive project than her previous work. Paintings for the Temple took 9 years to complete; it took me 12 minutes to explore.  

Atoms

While the focus is usually on af Klint’s spirituality and her absence from art history, there’s also her interest in science, from Brandon’s October 25, 2023 article,

…, I wonder how af Klint would have felt about her paintings being presented in virtual reality. According to Birnbaum [Daniel Birnbaum, current director and curator of Acute Art], who is the former director of Moderna Museet, Sweden’s museum of modern art in Stockholm, af Klint had a scientific mind. “One wonders what she would have thought of computation and recent inventions, like the blockchain,” he says. Stolpe also points me to the artist’s Atom Series—the atom being a major theme during her lifetime.

Image: courtesy Acute Art/Stolpe Publishing [downloaded from https://www.fastcompany.com/90971644/take-a-trip-inside-the-secretive-mind-of-visionary-painter-hilma-af-klint?]

The Guggenheim Museum in New York still has material from its 2018 blockbuster Hilma af Klint show available online, including this October 24, 2018 combined audio/transcript article, which includes these tidbits in the transcript,

The Atom Series (1917) by Hilma af Klint

Tracey Bashkoff [Director of Collections and Senior Curator at the Guggenheim]: Hilma af Klint is working at a time where the most recent scientific discoveries show that there is a world beyond our observable world, and that things like atoms and sound waves and x-rays and particles exist, that we don’t observe with the naked eye. And so, the question of opening up an invisible world from our physical world, being able to make observations of another dimension of reality, becomes an issue of exploration for af Klint and for many of the thinkers of her time.

Narrator: These works are from The Atom Series, which was executed in 1917. The atom was a major theme in science and society at large during the artist’s lifetime. In the last five years of the 19th century, the accepted understanding of atoms was overturned by the discovery of subatomic particles. At the same time, scientists were making numerous discoveries about electromagnetism, x-rays, radioactive decay, and other phenomena.

The audio file is about 2 mins. long and it’s a short transcript.

Follow up

Sadly, the VR show in New York City does not seem to have been extended and I can’t find any information about future ‘tour’ stops but I have found websites for Acute Art, Bokförlaget Stolpe Publishing, and Fotografiska New York.

Call for Nominations for 2024 “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and “Leonardo da Vinci” World Award of Arts*

The World Cultural Council is soliciting nominations for two awards, one for science and one for the arts. Before giving a few details about the call for awards nominations, here’s a few about the organization, from the World Cultural Council’s About Us webpage,

The World Cultural Council is a non-profit international organization, founded in Mexico, whose objectives are to promote culture, values and goodwill throughout the world. One of the means by which it strives to do so is by granting the Albert Einstein World Award of Science, the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education and the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts to outstanding personalities whose work has had a significantly positive impact on the cultural legacy of mankind. The members of the Council include several Nobel laureates.

It was in 1982, on the inspiration of 124 distinguished scholars, university presidents and organization executives from the world over, that the WCC was founded and, in 1984, the first Award Ceremony took place.

The World Cultural Council is composed of a directing body headed by an Honorary President, Vice-president, Executive Director, Secretary General and an Interdisciplinary Committee made up of outstanding scientific, artistic and educational personalities.

The Interdisciplinary Committee evaluates annually the candidates nominated to participate in the “Albert Einstein“, the “José Vasconcelos” and the “Leonardo da Vinci” Awards

Details for the 2024 call for two of the awards can be found in the November 29, 2023 Consejo Cultural Mundial (World Cultural Council) press release on EurekAlert,

The World Cultural Council (WCC) is now accepting nominations for the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and the “Leonardo da Vinci” World Awards of Arts. 

Nominations must be submitted by 26 January, 2024NOMINATE NOW: To nominate online or for further details of the awards visit the WCC website Nominations page.

Ideal candidates for the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science are scientists whose achievements can serve as an inspiration for future generations. This award is granted each year. Consideration will be given to individuals or institutions in one of the Life Sciences, such as Neuroscience, Earth Science, Biology, Biochemistry, Medicine or Chemistry; or in one of the Natural Sciences such as Physics, Mathematics or Astronomy.

A candidate for the “Leonardo da Vinci” World Awards of Arts should be a renowned artist, sculptor, painter, writer, poet, cinematographer, photographer, architect, musician or other performing, creative or visionary artist, whose work constitutes a significant contribution to the artistic legacy of the world. The prize is awarded every second year.

Apart from evaluating the nominee´s breakthrough achievements, the jury will also assess the service which each has made to mankind and his/her qualities as a role model who inspires future generations to contribute to a better world.

The World Cultural Council is an international organization that promotes cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges among individuals, universities and institutions. Its mission is to foster peace, social justice, and sustainable development through the advancement of culture, science, and education. 

The WCC accomplishes its mission primarily through the recognition of outstanding individuals and their achievements in the fields of science, education, and culture. Every year the WCC awards the Albert Einstein World Award of Science. In addition, in even years it presents the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts and in odd years it grants the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education. The annual WCC award ceremony is hosted each autumn by a different institute across the globe providing a platform for cultural exchange and dialogue.

The 39th WCC Award Ceremony will be hosted by take place at the McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 22-23 October, 2024. For further information on the 2024 Award Ceremony please visit:https://www.mcgill.ca/world-cultural-council-2024/

No self-nominations, the Council has a very specific type of nominator in mind, from the World Cultural Council’s Nominations webpage,

Nominating Authorities for the Prizes

Candidates for the awards may be selected and proposed only through the following authorities in any country:

* The President or the Prime Minister of a country
* Ministers of Science and Technology or Culture and Education
* Directors of institutes and organizations
* University leaders: Rector, President, Provost or Dean
* Members of the World Cultural Council

Good luck!

You can find out more about the World Cultural Council here and McGill University has produced a welcome video for the 39th WCC Award Ceremony talking place October 22-23, 2024,

*November 30, 2023 12:16 pm PT: Headline shortened from “Call for Nominations for [the] 2024 [for the] “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and [the] “Leonardo da Vinci” World Award of Arts”, i.e., words in square brackets removed.

6th annual Girls and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) Summit at Science World in Vancouver (Canada)

Thanks to Rebecca Bollwitt and the October 24, 2023 posting on her Miss 604 blog for the news about the 2023 (or 6th annual) Girls and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Summit. From Alexis Miles’s October 24, 2023 post,

The 6th annual Girls and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math), presented by STEMCELL Technologies, is taking place at Science World November 4th [2023].

Girls and STEAM at Science World
Date: Saturday, November 4, 2023
Time: 7:45am to 4:00pm
Location: Science World (1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver)
Admission: Registration is open online for girls aged 12 to 14.

300 young girls, aged 12-14, will take over the Science World dome in a day of hands-on activities, enriching workshops, inspiring mentorship sessions and a keynote presentation.

This year’s keynote presentation features Andini Makosinski, Filipina-Polish Canadian inventor best known for her invention of the Hollow Flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand, and theeDrink, a coffee mug that harvests the excess heat of a hot drink and converts it into electricity to charge a phone. The inspiration for Andini’s flashlight came from her friend in the Philippines, who had failed a grade in school because she had no light or electricity to study with at night.

A September 25, 2023 STEMCELL Technologies news release announces the company’s participation and support for the event,

STEMCELL Technologies, Canada’s largest biotechnology company, is pleased to announce it will be the presenting partner of the Girls and STEAM Summit at Science World in Vancouver.

The Summit, which takes place on November 4, 2023, is a full-day event with workshops, hands-on activities, a keynote presentation, and sessions with experienced mentors who work in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math).

“Science is about so much more than what happens in the laboratory. It provides a lens that can instill a deep-seated curiosity in young minds and enrich every aspect of our lives,” said Sharon Louis, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, STEMCELL. “Scientific education – in the classroom and out in the world – can lead to life-changing experiences and limitless opportunities for young women and girls. STEMCELL is proud to support the Girls and STEAM program to make science more accessible, and help ignite the passion of the next generation of scientists and leaders.”

About STEMCELL Technologies

STEMCELL Technologies supports life sciences research with more than 2,500 specialized reagents, tools, and services. STEMCELL offers high-quality cell culture media, cell separation technologies, instruments, accessory products, educational resources, and contract assay services that are used by scientists performing stem cell, immunology, cancer, regenerative medicine, and cellular therapy research globally.

[downloaded from https://miss604.com/2023/10/girls-and-steam-at-science-world.html]

You can register here.