Art of Life

Life! How can one possibly capture life! 

From the atom to sunlit nourishment to protein building blocks to squishy tissues and organs to the expansive brain to the cosmos....what a marvel, and yet,  these are put physical attributes. What is the mind? Feelings? Is there a soul? What does it mean to be alive? Everyone of us has probably questioned and explored—here we bring you a small but might cross section of this inquiry.

On this journey, through film, dance, visual composition, and more, we begin with a celestial bird's eye view, dive deep into the cell, and emerge out to celebrate life in its richness.

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Background image of Gymnosperm Stem Vascular Cambium, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Sean Lang

Sean Lang is a former student of undergraduate physics as well as math, who transitioned to art school for drawing, writing, story-telling and philosophy. He plays guitar, drums, bass, and sing. Here in this festival so innovatively melding art-making and ideas related to physics, he is contributing a brief talk on a charcoal drawing exhibited before at the Krannert Art Museum with further stunning artworks pertaining to physics; specifically, scale-variation. His endeavor in this talk is to take you on a cosmic journey across the piece, with some flare poetically.

View 'Scale, Life, Law'

Quantum Rhapsodies team

Quantum Rhapsodies is a meditation on the quantum world and its role in the Universe and our lives, told through narration, music, and visuals. piece.  The piece was created by Smitha Vishveshwara in collaboration with the Jupiter String Quartet and a visuals team involving Beckman experts, film-maker Nic Morse,  and Phys498-ART group. It premiered at the Beckman Institute at Urbana-Champaign in 2019. 

View the entire Quantum Rhapsodies team.

Read more about Quantum Rhapsodies

View 'Exploring the Brain'

Dance Your Science

Gayatri Muthukrishnan

Dr. Muthukrishnan carries a PhD in Bioengineering with specialization in Cell and Molecular Biology. She is currently a freelance science communicator, exploring traditional and non-traditional routes of communication. At DYS, Dr. Muthukrishnan is the communications director.

Sharmila Rao Bansal

Dr. Bansal is a professional dancer and dance teacher with over 20 years of experience. In her PhD in Indology she specialized in the transposition of texts into dance. With her background in educational science, Dr. Bansal Rao is the artistic director at DYS.

Pranitha Kamat

Dr. Kamat is a Biomedical Scientist with expertise in vascular biology and a Bharata Natyam performing artiste. She develops education materials for students of Indian Classical Dance and manages a publishing house. At DYS, Dr. Kamat is the scientific director.

Art makes us see. With this thought, at Dance your science (DYS) we use dance to illustrate, visualize and understand science. Founded in 2019 by a team of scientists and professional artists, DYS aims to communicate complex scientific ideas to a non-scientific audience. The working approach of DYS is to use dance and movement as a medium to visualize and understand science. The dance movements are adapted from the extensive vocabulary of Bharata Natyam, which is an Indian classical dance form. Using this art, is a contribution to existing attempts in using dance as a communicative medium for science. Various formats such as videos, workshops and performances are adapted to achieve this goal. Some of our previous engagements include panel discussion at The Transplantation Society 2020, Swiss Science Film Marathon 2020 and Helvetia Citizen Science festival 2021.

Read more about Dance Your Science

View 'Dance your Science on Virus & Bacteria'

Kirstie Simson

Kirstie Simson is renowned internationally as an excellent teacher, a captivating performer, and a leading light in the field of dance improvisation. For the past thirteen years she has been a professor in the Department of Dance at the University of Illinois, specializing in teaching improvisation and collaboration.

In August 2020 Kirstie returned to her home base in Wales where she will resume her teaching/performing work as an independent artist. She is also excited to have begun an involvement with the Black Mountains College in Wakes, where she is helping design an innovative degree course in 'planet-centric education for building a better future’' The program of study will feature the Arts and Sciences within a collaborative and non-hierarchical structure of education, with a view to addressing current issues. The program hopes to be launched in September 2022.

View 'Excerpts from Hool'

Martin Piliponsky

Martin Piliponsky is an architect, dancer and teacher of improvisation. He lived in BCN, Spain from 2004 – 2012, and is currently based is in Buenos Aires. Over the past decade he has taught dance improvisation in various festivals and international workshops in South, Central and North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. He received the TANZ ATELIER and DANCEWEB scholarships in Austria. The support of the metropolitan funds of arts and sciences (2013, 2015, 2017 and 2020) and the subsidy of IBERESCENA (2014) and PRODANZA (2016) for the realization of independent projects.

Blending his background in architectures and dance, Martin is sustained by a practice of 'deep listening to oneself and the environment that surrounds us'. Through his teaching he demonstrates how the spaces we inhabit can transform dance and life itself.

View 'Excerpts from Hool'

Isaac Zambra

Isaac Zambra is an architect, visual artist, and filmmaker from Mérida, Yucatán. His teaching work has been developed as a Faculty of Architecture at the Autonomous University of Yucatán, the School of Architecture of the Marista University in Mérida Yucatán, the Higher School of Arts of Yucatán ESAY, and in the School of Architecture of the Universidad Modelo.

His work as an architect, with a special interest in fusing architecture and visual arts, has earned him numerous building projects, awards, presentations and exhibitions both in Mexico and internationally.

His success as a filmmaker is evidenced by manifold presentations of his films in gallery spaces, and prestigious film festivals in Mexico, Korea, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, the United States and France.

View 'Excerpts from Hool'

Smitha Vishveshwara

Smitha Vishveshwara is a professor of physics based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her theoretical research explores the coldest states of matter in the universe, nanomaterials, strange quantum particles, black holes, proteins, and more. Over the past several years, she has been combining her passions for the arts and the sciences. She has developed an interdisciplinary project-based course, Where the Arts Meet Physics, in which students conceive, build and share their marvelous creations from the quantum to the cosmic. She has collaborated with marvelous theater-makers, dancers, musicians, visual artists, scientists, and more to create several works. These works include a performance-based adventure tale, Quantum Voyages, a meditative visual-music-narrative piece, Quantum Rhapsodies, and premiering at this festival, Solaria, a fantasy on the spirit of our solar system.  As an organizer of this festival, she is elated to witness The Illuminated Universe come alive through the incredible works of the numerous science-art explorers.

Read more about Smitha

View 'Solaria'

Stephen Andrew Taylor

Stephen Andrew Taylor is Professor of Composition-Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He grew up in Illinois and studied at Northwestern and Cornell Universities. His music explores boundaries between art and science, including his first orchestra commission, Unapproachable Light, premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 1996 in Carnegie Hall. He has composed for the Chicago Symphony, Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony, the Quad City Symphony, the River Town Duo, and Piano Spheres; awards include grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Read more about Stephen

View 'Solaria'

Rebecca Wiltfong

Rebecca Wiltfong has been working in Information Systems for more than 20 years. During that time she's experimented with web development, SQL, Photoshop and now Premiere video editing. She loves to use technology to tell stories, whether it be administratively, artistically or visually.  Working with the talents of Smitha, Steve and Nic on 'Solaria' was a highlight of the many projects she has worked on. The visuals paired with the fantastic sound track developed by Steve, tell the story Smitha wrote for the festival, and hopefully allows the audience to lose themselves in the tale while watching.  

View 'Solaria'

Nic Morse

Nic Morse is the Digital Media Specialist for the Graduate College at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He met Smitha Vishveshwara after Latrelle Bright introduced him and the rest is history. Nic has aided in Smitha and Latrelle's collaborations by supplying video, graphics, and credits to their work multiple times and hopes to continue to work with Smitha and Latrelle in the future. Enjoy the festival!

View 'Solaria'

Kaavi and Divi Bezouska

Kaavi and Divi Bezouska are sisters who have spent the last (pandemic) year learning how to, among many other things, roller blade, sew, bake and do flips on a trampoline. They both love to read, to be read to, spend time in the pool, play board games and create worlds to play with their dolls. This is their debut appearance on screen; the duo could not be more excited to be part of this production.

View 'Solaria'