SciArt Magazine - All Issues - Page 33

shoreline should be zoned. Instead, we ignore what happened and rebuild as if Sandy were just an annoying exception. SAiA: How much of the science behind your work do you want your viewers to walk away with? NM: Most of the work is about the complexity of interwoven systems that make up weather. I’m not interested in creating didactic, threedimensional versions of weather maps. Instead, I want to engulf the viewer in the complexity of biological, chemical, and physical interactions that make up weather. I want them to discover that complexity without immediately having it framed as being made up of science data. A simple legend nearby tells viewers what all these different colored beads mean: red beads stand for temperature, green dowels stand for barometric pressure, etc. Armed with these additional clues, the viewer becomes a kind of detective, trying to piece together the meteorological event the piece is about. However, the pieces rarely read as didactic as the legends seem to imply, but are closer to a visualization of the larger complex structure that holds all these variables together. SAiA: In addition to translating data into sculptural forms, you are currently collaborating with composers to translate scientific data into music. Can you talk about the process of this project, and how you think music can function as a communicator of science? NM: The latest development of my work includes the translation of meteorological data into musical scores that also function as weather almanacs and blueprints for sculptures. The data I use is a combination of my own collected observations and data available from local weather stations, offshore buoys, and satellites that is available from the Internet. These objective weather readings such as barometric pressure, temperature, and wind are combined with notations of specific human experiences—both my own and those of others. The integration of both leads to a musical/sculptural translation that explores how human emotions and experiences influence the perception of weather. I never know nor care what the musical score sounds like when I build it. I’m not interested SciArt in America December 2013 in building the score to produce a specific sound, because I don’t want to impose any kind of preconceived notion of what it should sound like on the visual creation of the score. I want the data to reveal itself sonically through the behaviors it creates with other data nearby. To me as a sculptor, the scores don’t function sonically at all. Rather, a score represents a kind of sculptural shorthand that I can use to begin the three-dimensional translation process with. These musical scores are translated into sculptures and are used in collaborative performances with musicians. These sculptures not only map meteorological conditions of a specific time and place, but also function as three-dimensional musical scores to be played by musicians. While musicians have freedom to interpret some parts of the score, they are asked not to change the essential relationship of the notes to ensure that what is heard is indeed the meteorological relationship of weather data. My aim is twofold: to convey a nuance or level of emotionality surrounding my research that thus far has been absent from my visual work, and to reveal patterns in the data musicians might identify which I have failed to see. Musical notation started to enter my translation of weather data into sculpture, in part, when I became aware of nuances that are embedded in numerical behaviors that meteorological instruments don’t pick up, but the human mind does. In that lies an imperfection/perfection of the human mind that I find incredibly fascinating and beautiful. After working with meteorological data for several years now, I