Saturday, February 28, 2015

Art Intervention in the Physics DepARTment



A little art intervention in the Physics DepARTment  


It's been seven weeks since my residency started.  The first week was spent settling in and setting up my studio.  During my second week, I took an intensive week long Circuit Building workshop (see 2 blogs back).  

The students who taught me the value of Google Calendar

Classes started January 26th and the last five weeks have been chock-a-block full.  Each Monday, I sit in on How to Create Things & Have Them Matter.  This course is "about ideas, how we imagine them, and especially how we continually reimagine them in order to produce an innovation that in some clear way benefits the world."  "The course teaches students to generate, develop and realize breakthrough ideas in the arts and sciences."

Professor Morin demonstrates the mechanical advantage of the Atwood Machine

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, I sit in on 15A (Mechanics & Relativity) lectures and labs.  Some of the 70ish students will have the option to work with me on a creative project, instead of their regular mid and end of the semester projects.  This I envision to be a collaborative kinetic sculpture or installation, that we build together, where they can still collect data and apply the usual quantitative analysis (using Logger Pro and Mathematica) while simultaneously making art.  

Ripple Tank Applet

I've started sitting in on a Waves and Optics lab where I've watched students make their own holograms, learned about interference, refraction, diffraction and wave phenomena via a ripple tank simulator.  As the students approach their end of the semester project, I'll be working with some (and learning a lot about) nonlinear oscillators and chaotic pendulums, building wind instruments and maybe creating a water ripple tank.

A piece of my vice being drilled on the milling machine

Additionally, I've been going to through my "Green Training" in the Machine Shop, building a vice and learning how to use a vertical and horizontal band saw, lathe, milling machine, reading plans and measuring to 1/1000 of an inch with a micrometer and calipers, (I was delighted to find safety glasses that have magnification lenses!) learning TIG welding and how to use the laser cutter.  

TIG welding training

Another thing I've been making a point of is setting up meetings with professors in the Physics Department to learn about their research, labs and areas of expertise.  They've been quite generous with their time, taken me on tours, given me advice on areas within physics to research where there's rich visual and aesthetic potential.  

Last week I gave a talk called "Collision: Where Art and Science Meet".  Here's an article that a student reporter from the Harvard Crimson wrote... 


One of the most enjoyable things that's happened is that students have come out of the woodwork, expressed their interest in making things and shared with me their ideas for projects. To encourage this I've begun a "Lunch with the AIR" (Artist-in-Residence) held every week, where I host an informal, incubator style, BYO lunch (dessert provided) where students can meet up, share whatever they're excited about, learning, researching and hash out their creative art-science ideas.

My very own computational notebook

Without a doubt, the Physics Department is a stimulating environment to be immersed in! Kind of like a language immersion course where you live in another country, speak, eat and dream in that language. Only this time I'm in Physicsland. The floodgate has opened and the ideas are rushing in so fast. I'm trying frantically to get them on paper before the next deluge comes.  One of the lab staff bestowed upon me (this was a rite of passage, I think) a computation notebook to keep track of my data collection. 
I think I'll draw in it.


2 comments:

  1. Wow, Kim this all looks so amazing and fun! And your pieces look beautiful in that window. Keep learning.

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  2. Very inspiring- I love the last bit of you being in Physicsland.

    ReplyDelete