Art of Life
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.
Background image of Gymnosperm Stem Vascular Cambium, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
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.
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.
Julia Pollack is the creator and curator of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology's Art of Science Program. The Art of Science program is a celebration of common ground between science and art. Each exhibit comprises images from IGB's research portfolio, enhanced to highlight the beauty and fascination encountered daily in scientific endeavors. The Art of Science includes subjects from the microscopic to the holistic, from the physical to the abstract.
Martin Gruebele was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1964. He obtained his BS in 1984 and his PhD in 1988 at UC Berkeley, did a postdoc with Ahmed Zewail at Caltech, and then joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1992. There, he is currently the James R. Eiszner Chair in Chemistry, as well as o the faculty in Physics, Biophysics and Quantitative Biology, the Center for Advanced Studies, and in the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine. His research interests include protein and RNA folding; fast dynamics in live cells; vibrational energy flow in molecules, quantum computing, measurement and control; nanoscale imaging of excited states; glassy dynamics; and locomotion behavior. He's married to Nancy Makri and they have two children, Alexander and Valerie. In his free time, he runs, bikes, swims and builds tiny models.
Taras Pogorelov was born in Togliatti, Russia. He earned a diploma in biomedical electrical engineering at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University and M.S. in mathematics and Ph.D. in chemical physics with Zan Luthey-Schulten from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There he completed postdoctoral training with Todd Martinez and Emad Tajkhorshid. He currently is a research assistant professor of Chemistry, Biophysics and Quantitative Biology, and an affiliate of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and a senior research scientist at the School of Chemical Sciences. His research interests are in physical biology of the cell signaling and include functional lipids in membrane-associated phenomena, protein dynamics in complex environments, and plasma membrane cell signaling.
Meredith Rickard is from Atascadero, California. She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama in 2015. She is currently a graduate student in physical chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is co-advised by Martin Gruebele and Taras Pogorelov. Her research focuses on building atomistic models to study the effect of the cellular environment on protein interactions, folding and dynamics.
Carla Scaletti is an experimental composer, designer of the Kyma sound design language and co-founder of Symbolic Sound Corporation. She has a doctorate in music composition and a master’s of computer science from the University of Illinois.
Her first paper on sonification was “Using sound to extract meaning from complex data” (SPIE 1991) with Alan Craig at NCSA (although in high school, she secretly turned her algebra homework into musical compositions).
From 2010 - 2012 she collaborated with CERN physicist Lily Asquith on LHCSound, sonifying data from the Atlas Experiment, and with choreographer Gilles Jobin on music for his physics-inspired dance, QUANTUM.
Kurt J. Hebel, vice president and co-founder of Symbolic Sound Corporation, has a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois where he taught courses in digital audio engineering, sound synthesis and processing algorithms, and DSP-programming for several years before starting Symbolic Sound. His research has been published in the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, Computer Music Journal, and several book chapters and conference proceedings. Kurt has been designing, building and programming digital audio hardware and software for his entire adult life, starting with the KIM-1 based synthesizer he built in his parent's basement while still in high school.
Melih Sener is a theoretical biophysicist at UIUC Beckman Institute specializing in the harvesting of sunlight in nature as an energy source to sustain life. The questions addressed in his computational work include how cellular mechanisms achieve high efficiency, robustness, and optimality, and what we can learn from nature to design better solar energy solutions. 15 of his publications form the basis of the energy conversion animations shown as part of 'Birth of Planet Earth', the winner of the Best Scientific Visualization of 2019. He regularly gives public outreach lectures on scientific literacy as a basis for empathy and democratic reform in a society where misinformation is rampant.
Dr. Donna J. Cox, MFA, is the first Michael Aiken Chair, Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, the Research & Education division, and the eDream Institute at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications; and Professor School of Art+Design, University of Illinois. She and her collaborators provide millions with cinematic presentations of science in international fulldome digital museum shows, IMAX movies, and feature films. She is co-editor and contributor to “New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts” (2018). She's received numerous awards. ACM SIGGRAPH awarded her the distinguished lifetime achievement award for digital art, July 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.