SciArt Magazine - All Issues | Page 10

It’s unclear if mainstream venues exhibiting science-related art value it for the scientific concepts it addresses or for other reasons, such as aesthetics. “The venues I have worked with in NYC,” said Splan, who has exhibited her work in venues from Chelsea to the New York Hall of Science, “have generally prioritized points of entry that are informed by conventional aesthetics of art and design over institutional aesthetics of science and medicine.” We asked the galleries their views on these issues, but despite numerous inquires to major New York museums and galleries both mentioned and unmentioned in this article, we did not receive a reply on the subject. lier, last March ARTnews published an article entitled, “Weird Science: Biotechnology as Art Form” which discusses BioArt as an art practice that replaces the studio with a laboratory, and mentioned several places where BioArtists work, such as Genspace, the NATLab at SVA, and SymbioticA of Australia. While the author limited the discussion to BioArt, to see this type of discussion happen in a major art magazine is an important first step. __________________________________________ The factors that prevent SciArt from claiming territory in the mainstream art world, from SciArt’s pedagogical aspects to its biohazard potential, label conventions, obscurity, and/or a possible stigma of classification with a “logical”, VII. Rallying Around Important Topics “left-brained” discipline are, of course, imposSciArt made inroads into the art world around sible to measure or even disentangle. Subject the same time science made inroads into popu- matter aside, galleries may reject some SciArt— and this would be true with any art—because lar culture. One rallying point was genetics it just isn’t as ‘good’ as the competition. The and genomics in the 1990s, now known as the thing is that it’s impossible to put the subject decade of the gene. In 1994, Anker curated an matter aside. What makes something good is exhibit at Fordham University entitled “Gene Culture: Molecular Metaphor in Contemporary in the eye of the beholder—but the beholder may well be influenced by mainstream convenArt.” In 1996, Art Journal, a publication of the College Art Association, put out an issue, guest- tions about content. All of these factors could also be related to the broader cultural context edited by Levy with Berta Sichel, on “Art and of the role of art in our society. As religion used the Genetic Code” that reached a very wide, largely academic audience and quickly sold out. to be both the center of culture and the subject matter of art, there is the growing idea that as Anker remembers many exhibits in conjunction with the announcement of the rough draft science gains prominence in our culture at large, SciArt will become more and more central to of the human genome, in 2000. “Probably the the art world, a topic we discussed in our very most famous one,” Anker said, “was ‘Paradise first issue. Now,’ which was at Exit Art,” a SoHo Gallery that has since closed. The 50th anniversary of “Everything takes time,” said Pannucci, “and the discovery of the structure of DNA occathose artists that are at the forefront of pushsioned science-related art exhibits in 2003. That ing boundaries—that has always been the case year, Anker and Dorothy Nelkin published the that their work wasn’t understood… [for SciArt] book The Molecular Gaze: Art in the Genetic Age. I don’t think it’s any different, really, and I do “For whatever reason, there’s been more diffi- think that {a change is} coming because these culty with receptivity to scientific ideas in con- scientific issues of sustainability and climate change and environmental issues are in our face junction with artwork, but I think the attitude has changed a lot with the genome project, with right now and they’re not going away, and evthe cloning of Dolly,” says Levy. “There’ve been erybody across the board is already impacted by them and will be much more… In that sense, so many spectacular things in the public eye— there is a bright future for artists that deal with for example, stem cell research—this has been science topics.” incredibly compelling. They evoke wonder, inspiring both the interest and even jealousy Pratt Manhattan Gallery’s Battis reinforced of artists who try to duplicate and borrow the this explanation: “We’ve sort of accepted that language and processes of science.” artists define our culture—help us to define and understand culture—so why can’t we apply that SciArt is starting to make appearances in to science as well?” mainstream art magazines. As mentioned ear- 10 SciArt in America December 2013