The opening of the exhibit Art as Science on Nov. 7 in the Lockhart Gallery helped to celebrate one of Geneseo's most prominent academic and architectural achievements - the Integrated Science Center, which opened officially on Nov. 10.
The exhibit, which featured local science photographers, RIT School of Photographic Imaging and Science faculty Andrew Davidhazy and Michael Peres, and Geneseo School of the Arts Professors Dan DeZarn and Doug Anderson, combines two of the most basic and opposite schools of thought-art and science-into one of the most unique and intriguing exhibits all year. Through a variety of paintings, photography and installation work, it creates an unexpected fusion of the artistic side of science and the scientific side of art. Although the concept that generated the show is not necessarily a novel one, the artists featured revitalize the ancient relationship in their original representations of what the concept of art as science means to each of them.
Anderson, a painting and drawing professor used science as a starting point rather than as a focus in his pieces for the exhibit, and the result is a more aesthetically-driven product. For example, in his unique pieces "Father" and "Daughter," he captures skin cells on cellophane tape and transfers them onto a black background to form faces.
However, Anderson takes each piece beyond the aesthetic and leaves none without a message. His steel painting "Nothing Smaller than Your Elbow" combines surgical images with a number of household objects to question the morality of surgery. All of his pieces serve not only as interpretations of science as art, but also question science and the way it effects humanity as a whole. The gallery quotes Anderson as saying, "Although I am not in any way a scientist, I often take a scientific approach to discovering the world around me…But because I am usually more interested in aesthetics and metaphor, the work tends to drift away from being just a science experiment."
Davidhazy and Peres took a much more science-oriented approach with their contributions to the show. Although their photographs depended greatly on scientific principles and precision, they vividly demonstrated how artistic such subject matter can be. Peres' colorful photomicrographs of snowflakes, minerals and insects demonstrate how the use of science can bring about the beauty of the aesthetic, especially in the form of nature. One of the most interesting pieces in the show is Davidhazy's microflash photograph in which he captures a .22 caliber bullet cutting a playing card in half.
The work of DeZarn, a sculpture and 3-D design professor is entirely concept-driven. He experiments with the capturing of time are in his featured installation pieces "Frozen Moments" and "An Infinite View of 45 Seconds" from a series of work called "The Time Project." Both use firecrackers, the first by capturing the physical explosions in resin blocks and the second by capturing the images of the explosions using handmade pinhole cameras. He repeats each process multiple times to reflect the different ways humans perceive time and question the accuracy of history and memory. Although DeZarn is one of the artists of the show, his pieces look more like scientific experiments than artistic works, although certainly not without aesthetic merit. Despite this, his work is a one-of-a-kind interactive vision that needs to be experienced first-hand.
To balance the art with an entirely scientific aspect of the show, commentary for some of the pieces was provided by Geneseo science and math professors Gary Towsley, Olympia Nicodemi and Edward Beary.
The exhibit will remain up in the Lockhart Gallery in the McClellan House on Main Street until Dec. 14. The Gallery is open Monday-Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m.