This summer the Institute For Figuring will host its first Science and Art Residency. Designed as an extension of the IFF's interest in hands-on practices inspired by scientific themes, the Residency will host two thinker-makers who work at the boundary of the theoretical and material. During Summer and Fall, each resident will take over the Institute, using it as a studio laboratory and as a space for public engagement. At the heart of these open-ended explorations is the question of how form arises, an issue that has engaged philosophers and scientists through the ages. Plato, Aristotle, Darwin, Kant and Einstein have all theorized about the evolution of our from in world, and the origin of form continues to be a key question in a range of scientific disciplines from molecular biology and genetics to astronomy and cosmology. The IFF's 2013 Science and Art Residents - Christine Wertheim and Jacob Dotson - both engage in aesthetic practices that respond to the question of form-creation using simple materials and humble technologies to construct vast, evolving structures.
Throughout the residencies the public will be invited to attend workshops and participate in the construction of the works, giving the IFF's community an experience of two processes that are simultaneously methodical and experimental.
Christine Wertheim: The Plastic Silurian. Photo from IFF Archives by Cameron Allan.
Summer Residency, July 11 - September 28, 2013: Christine Wertheim - The Silurian Age
From the first protoplasmic seeds, life on earth gradually evolved from pond scum into the vast diversity of organic forms that constitute the tree of life today, that great teeming taxonomic mix from sea slugs and peacocks to elephants and redwoods. How did these structures come into being? The origin of form remains one of the central focuses of biology. Having inspired Aristotle, Goethe and Darwin it is now the subject of intense interest by evolutionary biologists and geneticists. During her residency, Christine Wertheim will create an artwork titled The Silurian Age, a series of large-scale crocheted sculptures that explore the coming into being of organic structure using the algorithmic techniques of crochet, and focusing on plastic bags as her raw material. Workshops will teach crochet and other handicraft techniques.
Fall Residency, October 10 - December 21, 2013: Jacob Dotson - Liberation Geometry
In the mineralogical world, structure emerges from geometry. Salt crystals are cubic, diamond is tetrahedral. The study of crystal structure was one of the great projects of nineteenth century science and ultimately led to the mathematical discipline of symmetry groups. For the past several years Jacob Dotson has been exploring the possibilities of crystalline geometry using simple bamboo sticks to build intricate networks of platonic solids and other mathematical modules. Calling himself a "liberation geometer," Dotson's project is truly experimental as he continually discovers new ways to configure simple geometric units. In this residency Dotson will create several new gallery-filling pieces as part of an ongoing exploratory process. In workshops he will teach a range of techniques for weaving and linking stick-structures, from introductory processes to advanced network buildings.