Albert Einstein once wrote: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science."
The unknown, the mysterious, this is where art and science meet. To the art lover, science may be the mystery. It's heavy and analytical and clouded with highfalutin concepts. To the scientist, it may be the reverse. Art is heavy and analytical and.... wait a minute. Perhaps the road between science and art does not veer into far distant paths?
The art duo VILD, which is compose of artists Vinita Israni and Linh Tran Do, attempt to find the space between science and art in their new exhibition Submerged: Origins of a Species. Submerged opened Friday evening at the Fresh Arts gallery as a part of the ARC Exhibition Series.
Upon entering the gallery space, you are engulfed in multiple stacks of spiraling test tubes lit up from their interior with clear bulbs from Christmas-style lights. The installation consists of a handful of these clear stacks that twist around as they climb towards the gallery's ceiling. Additionally, there are two smaller stacks placed together on either side of the gallery, which are illuminated with blue lights. With the dim lighting of the gallery and the ambient music, the larger perspective was quite lovely.
"We believe that art is a science, and science is an art," the artists say. The artists' intent, when creating this installation, was to find the commonalities between science and art, which they say are quite often considered to be "polar opposites." When you think about it, though, is the line between science and art in all that much need of "blurring," as the artists say?
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Science and art are kindred spirits and play integral parts in each others discipline and have for centuries. One of the most famous artists who studied both areas of knowledge, Leonardo da Vinci, was fascinated with the interplay between the two and sketched hundreds of works about the human anatomy. Dutch Painter Johannes Vermeer (1668) was highly interested in astronomy and his paintings combined these two lnterests. The list goes on and on of the multitude of artists influenced by science and vice versa. Even thinking about how artistic materials are created, science is the base behind art. And scientists, themselves, are as artistic as any painter or metal worker out there. This concept has been studied and discussed and dissected in abundance.
It is this obvious theme, or rather a theme that should be fascinating if it introduces the audience to something new, that makes Submerged: Origins of Species lacking in excitement. The stacks of test tubes are supposed to represent strands of DNA, but this might not occur to you if you had not read the show's description. Instead, the sculptures look exactly like they sound, stacks of lit up test tubes. Pretty? Yes, most definitely. Lit up glass will always be eye-catching. Provocative, blurring lines between science and art? Not really.
"Origins of Species" is a bold title for any collection and it demands a strong subject. I wish that I had stronger feelings about the show. I found it attractive, but also disappointing as based on its description; I was excepting so much more. As this is the first show between the duo who are still studying their craft, I see great things to come from them, especially when they find the mystery and beauty behind the art of science or the science of art, whichever direction they take. For now, Submerged is an nice-looking exhibition from two artists that will impress the world after their art has matured some.
Submerged: Origins of Species is on display now through August 10 at the Fresh Arts Gallery. Free. Visit Fresharts.org for more information.