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Art and science combine to bring data to life in new UTS exhibition

BY Ultimo Science Festival | 22-Aug-2014
A free exhibition inspired by scientific research will be held at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in September, as part of the 9th annual Ultimo Science Festival. Living Data: Evolving Conversations showcases the work of more than 30 scientists and artists to celebrate art and science for both fuelling imagination and challenging established ideas.

Exhibits take many forms including animation, dance, ‘living’ laboratories of specimens, interactive installations, drawing, music, painting, graphic work and sculpture. Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to get creative and contribute their responses to a ‘graffiti’ wall. The exhibition is co-curated by UTS researchers in the Faculty of Science, Dr Lisa Roberts, Creative Fellow, Climate Change Cluster and Anita Marosszeky, Associate Fellow, Compassionate Conservation. Roberts, the great-granddaughter of artist Tom Roberts, says “A lot of people are surprised to hear that scientists can also be creative and that artists might be inspired by science, but in my experience the two fields can work together very well and we are seeing more collaborations that reveal the creative process in science as well as art.”

This year, Roberts and Marosszeky will be conducting an experiment during the exhibition. Through collection and analysis of data they will test the hypothesis that exhibits expressing both feeling and thinking are most likely to convey accurate information. Roberts says, “Scientists also want to know if visitors respond to exhibits in the ways that their authors intend them to be understood.” “We will invite people to draw on the walls around the exhibits to contribute their thoughts, comments, and stories. By the end of the exhibition we hope to have great graffiti walls created by collaborating scientists, artists and visitors, in response to the different ways we express our understandings.” Roberts said the data and analysis are vital for planning future Living Data projects.

“We want people to join us in this important conversation about how we understand through art and science to see beyond our limits. Talk with us, participate in the survey, and find out what appeals and why,” she said. Highlights of the Living Data exhibition include video works inspired by expeditions to the poles: "Pregnant Walk" by David Buckland, of a gravid naked woman walking on ice towards an unknown future; "New Species" by Andrea Juan, envisaging future mutant giant algae; "Oceanic Living Data" by Lisa Roberts, combining key data of sea levels rising, underwater video and a motion-captured Chinese calligraphic form for "Ocean". Central to the exhibition is a UTS living laboratory of algae for developing sustainable biofuel. With its green glowing vial of photosynthesising cells, this exhibit is potent with symbolic meaning.

This free exhibition is on from September 3 to 12 at the UTS City Campus in two locations: • The Living Data Atrium: Level 3 Building 4 (Science), Harris St (opposite ABC) • Living Data: Evolving Conversations, main entrance of UTS, level 4 Building 1 (the Tower), Broadway