When Art Met Science

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Noemi Schipfer, one half of the duo known as Nonotak, stands in front of one of her installations—a series of LED tubes whose light and intensity ebb and flow in a choreographed pattern. [Image: Alessia Kirkland]

ARTECHOUSE in Washington, D.C., USA, has a mission to inspire, educate and empower the creation of new, experiential and exploratory art—all enabled by science and technology. Thus, it’s the perfect venue for a partnership celebrating the inaugural International Day of Light, which aims to draw attention to the ubiquitous role that light plays in diverse areas of our daily lives, whether medicine, education or art.

Celebrating the International Day of Light

Presented by ARTECHOUSE in partnership with OSA, the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Venture Partnership Fund, “Naked Eyes” is an immersive audiovisual experience by the world-renowned artist studio Nonotak. The four-installation exhibition premieres on May 16, the International Day of Light, and will be open to the public until June 30. OPN was invited to a special preview of the exhibit and was able to pick the brains of the artists, gallery owners and society personnel who made this all possible.

Sandro Keresa, co-founder and creative director of this innovative space, showcases technology-driven works to stimulate interest in the intersection between art and science. Keresa underscored the importance of science for inspiring innovative, experiential art, emphasizing that through art and science, creativity is limitless. “Every city has dedicated spaces for film and fine art, but there is nothing like ARTECHOUSE.”

Noemi Schipfer, an illustrator who’s one of Nonotak’s two members (along with Takami Nakamoto), expressed that it is the “immateriality” of light that inspires her to create immersive, dreamlike light and sound installations. “Light is our main medium. It’s not just illumination; it’s also reflection or even projection, and we like to experiment with that.” Inspired by the thin and flexible fiber lasers from Versalume, an integrated lighting solutions provider, Nonotak created an installation titled “Zero Point 1” that uses many strands of the light-diffusing fiber to create a 3-D grid-like structure, where individual strands are lit up in coordination with ethereal music. The overall effect is complex and geometric—overwhelming the viewer’s senses in an immersive experience.

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A gallery attendee views the installation “Zero Point 1,” which is composed of dozens of thin, flexible fiber lasers that light the space in coordinated patterns set to music. [Image: Alessia Kirkland]

Fiber optics and LED

The fiber lasers were key to the success of this installation, as the quality of light is “seamless,” which “changed everything,” according to Schipfer. Frank Kuo, an OSA volunteer, explained that the fibers combine fiber optics and LED technology, which allows Nonotak to create in this innovative way. “LED is easy to work with because you can change the intensity of the current; this gives the artist freedom to create and shape the space.” According to Kuo, “The fiber-optic aspect of the technology makes the light sharp; it confines the light.”

Liz Rogan, OSA CEO, spoke to the significance of collaborating with ARTECHOUSE on the International Day of Light. “We hope to generate a level of curiosity in the technology and science, that’s supported through sustained federal funding,” said Rogan. “The technologies being used as mediums in the installation are the same technologies that support incredible discoveries that we depend on. For example, fiber optics continue to expand and support our communication needs while LED’s provide energy-efficient lighting solutions throughout the world.”


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