Science as Art – Art as Science

27 February 2012to29 February 2012

Science and art are not as far apart as you may think. A long history of visualising science entwines the two disciplines. At ASC2012 delegates will be able to learn how to make use of science art and visualisation when communicating scientific concepts and explore the transition between pure science and pure art.

Illustrations and graphics have been critical to the advancement of science ever since the times of Leonardo DaVinci and Albrecht Dürer, who very efficiently used the universal language of images to document details of the natural world. “Medical illustration allows the artist to edit the scene. You can even show what can’t be seen,” highlights Bang Wong, creative director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Data journalist David McCandless explains that in our modern society, “suffering from information overload or data glut”, graphics can help to “visualise information so we can see the patterns and connections that matter and allow us to focus only on the information that’s important”.

It is from these illustrations of scientific information that science art was born. Visual communication of science can be regarded as a continuum ranging from purely informative illustrations of scientific detail to artistic creations for entertainment purposes. “To create effective visual communication is trying to hit the right spot in that continuum that matches the purpose of the communication and also the audience that you’re targeting,” elaborates Wong. However, the location of a visual on this continuum also depends on who watches it. “People see in it what they see in it. They may or may not notice [certain details],” he explains and McCandless remarks that “failing [its informative purpose], visualised information can just look really cool.”

Besides inspiration, modern science provides artists with novel techniques and materials to experiment with. The result is a fascinating array of projects ranging from weird to wonderful. The question, however, is, which role can and do these art projects play in the communication of science.

A highly interactive session at ASC2012 will explore this question and discuss ways to increase the communicative aspect of science art. An exhibition of science art throughout the three days of the conference will showcase the work of scientists and science artists and illustrate the ‘continuum of science visualisation’. Creators of science visuals are encouraged to <a title="Kate Patterson" href="mailto:Kate Patterson “>contact the organiser to have their work included in the exhibition.

Getting science where it’s needed
Sydney Masonic Centre
27 to 29 February

Concurrent Session 7B – Science Art: A dialogue about the value of art in communicating science

Science-As-Art Exhibition

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About Achim Eberhart

Achim Eberhart holds a degree in Biology from the University of Tübingen, Germany and a PhD in Zoology from The University of Melbourne. He has always been enthusiastic about communicating science to a general audience and currently works as a freelance science writer.

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