Science As Art In Print
A Unique Collaboration
By: R. W. Boyer
Curation of an open exhibition is difficult. As a previous newsletter explained, open exhibitions highlight individual prints rather than collections. Some work needs context and works far better as a series.
A small collection submitted for the 2021 Exhibition caught my eye from the first time I saw them. I’d need a few thousand words to effectively explain why I was so interested in the series. The series piqued interest from my fellow judges as well. The universal phrase I remember was “What are these?”. At first glance, it’s difficult to determine if the are photographs are made from below looking up or above looking down, almost like a satellite image. The graphics layered on each print are mysterious and strangely attractive. I had to reach out to the person that submitted the prints to know more.
The prints submitted are the product of a two-person collaboration, Dr. Daniel Foti an engineering professor and David Horan, an art professor. One of my first comments during our meeting was that the images are hard to figure out if they were above or below the clouds with a casual glance. I was wondering if they heard that before. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the answer. “The base photographs were designed to be ambiguous”. I’ll let the creators speak for themselves as their summary is far better than one I could cobble together.
“The base photographs were designed to be ambiguous”
I’d love to see this work shared and exhibited in the appropriate venues. I see so many opportunities to engage people, especially younger students. If anyone in our Paper Arts Collective Community would like more information or could facilitate sharing this project get in touch.
Dr. Daniel Foti, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Memphis
David Horan, Department of Art, University of Memphis
Contact Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aeroglyphs: Temporary Traces, Permanent Marks
David Horan and Daniel Foti
Contrails are the line-shaped ice clouds that form behind aircraft as water vapor in the hot jet exhaust from the engines mixes with the cold atmospheric air many kilometers above the earth. Contrails are the traces of interaction produced through the improbable act of human flight. They undergo time and space changes, transform into different regimes, and dissipate into wispy cirrus clouds or translucent air. They are enigmatic, ephemeral, and transient relics of human existence and engineering. The traces may last seconds or hours until they fade from existence.
Our work is one of collaboration between engineering, a fluid dynamist, and fine art, a photographer, on the human desire to communicate, learn and interact. We see contrails—aeroglyphs—as evidence of the universal desire for mark-making. We all seek to leave our mark either to validate our existence or communicate to others. They hold agency in scientific inquiry into the workings of our atmosphere and the dynamics of global change. While contrails, in themselves, are temporary traces in the sky, they produce lasting effects on atmosphere and climate. The abstraction of the aeroglyphs refers to the permanent marks left by the multi-faceted interactions of the photographer observing, the teacher explaining, the person creating the abstraction, and the viewers of the work.
From a scientific and pedagogical perspective, we want to promote STEM and art education through the integration of our respective disciplines. From an artistic perspective, we want to construct images that engage the viewers’ desire to leave their own mark in their lives, and in the lives of others.