Response to Werner: Science Museum vs. Art Gallery, and other stuff . . .

Stephen Nowlin/ Regarding some cited works of Sci-Art, Werner Sun comments that “. . . if I had encountered any one on its own, I would probably not have identified it as sci-art per se . . .” ( http://bit.ly/wernercomment )

Werner, thanks for your thoughtful comment, which raises really intriguing issues. First, on a broader subject being discussed, my two-cents is that I don’t really think “Sci-Art” rises to the definition of a brand — it’s rather more like a way-finding sign. It suffices, only. Personally, it kind-of covers what I do and maybe that’s as much as we can expect of a big umbrella word. In any event, I think that what we do is not done in order to justify or fit into what it ends up getting labeled. The best we can do is agitate and incite for the moment in which our efforts might make meaning.

Given your comment quoted above, I’m curious to know how you feel about objects displayed in a science museum vs. those displayed in an art gallery. Could they be interchangeable, should they be? I often appropriate raw scientific artifacts and put them on display unedited, to behave like works of art in the gallery next to artists’ works that may or may not look like science at all. I like the confusion and tension it creates. I curated an exhibit I called UNCERTAINTY, and I made two videos documenting the installation — one with didactic text clarifying all the works’ relationship to science, the other with no didactic text. The exhibit itself purposely had no didactic text to bias visitors. I’d love to hear any thoughts vis-a-vis the videos’ respective Sci-Art factors if anyone has the time and inclination to view them. I guess the question is — does Sci-Art need to look like Sci-Art, to be Sci-Art? Does Sci-Art describe objects, or context?

UNCERTAINTY w/out annotation — https://vimeo.com/205276101

UNCERTAINTY w/annotation — https://vimeo.com/207343937

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