Conversations on Art and Science Event Series

Under the leadership of SAIC's former President and current Chancellor, Walter Massey, the Conversations on Art and Science event series was launched in 2011 as a forum for exploring interdisciplinary and critical perspectives on art, science, design, and technology. Lectures or panel discussions hosted each fall and spring semester bring noted artists, designers, and scholars to the SAIC campus to discuss their work. These dialogues provide a time and place for considering myriad perspectives on art, science, design, and technology. They also sustain the diverse conversations on art and science that are ongoing in the work of faculty and students at SAIC.

All events are free, non-ticketed, and open to the public.

Universal Inquiry: Methods of Encounter with the Natural World
Roundtable with Joey Orr, Andy Yang and Lucianne Walkowicz

October 5, 4:30-5:45 p.m.
Neiman Center, 37 S. Wabash Ave., First Floor

The work of Joey Orr (MA 2006–08) explores the boundaries between art and research. He is a founding member of the idea collective, John Q, whose collaborative projects investigate public scholarship and archival practices. An alum of the Visual and Critical Studies graduate program at SAIC, Orr holds a practice-based, interdisciplinary PhD from Emory University. He served as Associate Editor for the Journal for Artistic Research; coeditor for “Participatory Research,” a special issue of Visual Methodologies; and currently coeditor for “Inhabiting Cultures,” a special issue of the Journal of American Studies. Currently the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, he is curating three concurrent exhibitions located at the intersection of art and research. In 2017, he begins his new post as the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Curator of Research at the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas.

Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where she studies stellar magnetic activity, how stars influence a planet's suitability as a host for alien life, and how to use advanced computing to discover unusual events in large astronomical data sets. Also an artist, Walkowicz works in a variety of media, from oil paint to sound. Walkowicz holds a BS in Physics from Johns Hopkins University, and an MS and PhD from the University of Washington. She was the Kepler Fellow at UC Berkeley and the Henry Norris Russell Fellow at Princeton University before joining the Astronomy Department at Adler Planetarium in 2014. She is a 2012 TED Senior Fellow, a 2011 National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow, and is an internationally recognized advocate for the conservation of dark night skies.

SAIC Associate Professor Andrew Yang is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose work interweaves the natural, cultural, and bio-historical. His work has been exhibited worldwide from Oklahoma to Yokohama, Japan, and many places in between. Yang has recently created projects for the 14th Istanbul Biennial and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and has a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through December 31. Yang’s writing and research appear in journals crossing biology, art, and philosophy including Biological Theory, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Leonardo, and Gastronomica. He holds both a PhD in Biology from Duke University and an MFA in Visual Arts from the Lesley College of Art and Design. He is a research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History, and in fall 2015 he was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Liberal Arts

Drawing in the Nonhuman
George Gessert in Conversation with Eduardo Kac

October 27, 4:30-5:45 p.m.
MacLean Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.

George Gessert studied at University of California–Berkeley, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the Art Students League. He began as a painter, and since the early 1980s, much of his work has focused on the overlap of art and genetics. He has exhibited widely in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. His writings have appeared in many publications, and his awards include a Pushcart Prize. His work was included in Best American Essays (2007, edited by David Foster Wallace) and Green Light, a collection of notes on bio art, was published by MIT press in 2010. He currently is the editor for art and biology for Leonardo. George Gessert joins well-known artist and SAIC Professor Eduardo Kac in a conversation about the state of this still-emerging and expanding field. 

Eduardo Kac is internationally recognized for his telepresence and bio art. Kac pioneered telecommunications art in the pre-internet 1980s and emerged in the early 1990s with radical works combining telerobotics and living organisms. His visionary integration of robotics, biology, and networking explores the fluidity of subject positions in the post-digital world. At the dawn of the 21st century Kac opened a new direction for contemporary art with his "transgenic art"—first with a groundbreaking piece titled Genesis (1999), which included an "artist's gene" he invented, and then with GFP Bunny, his fluorescent rabbit called Alba (2000).

Through the Quantum Looking Glass
SAIC Scientist in Residence Gabriela Lemos in Conversation with Kathryn Schaffer

November 30, 4:30-5:45 p.m.
MacLean Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.

Gabriela Lemos is a Brazilian scientist who obtained her Bachelor and Master of Science in Physics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais Brazil, with a thesis on open quantum systems. She received her PhD in Physics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where she studied chaotic environments acting on quantum systems. She worked for more than a year in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro laboratory. In 2012 Lemos was elected a Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology postdoctoral fellow. Lemos’ main topics of research are quantum optics, quantum open systems, quantum chaos, and quantum imaging. Watch her TEDx talk titled “What if we were the size of an atom?” 

Kathryn Schaffer is a physicist and Professor at the SAIC. Her scientific research focuses on data analysis for experiments in cosmology and nuclear physics. Schaffer is a founding co-organizer of the Conversations on Art and Science series.

Past events