In the News: UChicago's Arts, Science & Culture Initiative partners with SAIC

Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune discusses our new partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) as part of her report on SAIC's new focus on the instersecection of art and science

Visualization of the cosmic web generated by Benedikt Diemer (Ph.D Candidate, Astrophysic, UChicago). Diemer and Isaac Facio (MFA Candidate, Fiber & Material Studies, SAIC) are working on a collaborative project for our 2014-2015 Graduate Collaboration Grants titled The Fabric of the Universe.

Brotman interviews two our our 2014-2015 Graduate Collaboration Grantees, Benedikt Diemer (Ph.D Candidate, Astrophysics, UChicago) and Isaac Facio (MFA Candidate, Fiber & Material Studies, SAIC), and features their project "The Fabric of the Universe."


With graduate students, SAIC's involvement is with the University of Chicago's Arts, Science & Culture Initiative. The initiative funds research projects in which science students team up with those in the arts.


The collaboration has challenged and entranced them. Isaac Facio, a Master of Fine Arts candidate in fiber and material studies at SAIC, is working with Benedikt Diemer, a doctoral student in astrophysics at the University of Chicago, to create a 3-D textile work that will represent the universe's dark matter.


Visual depiction of Diemer's data was inherently thorny. Facio found himself asking, "If dark matter is invisible, then what are we doing? If it's not visual, what are we rendering?"


"Artists ask very different questions," Diemer said. "Isaac's first question (on looking at Diemer's 2-D rendering) was, 'What's the perspective here?' It was a totally different way to look at it, a visual way.


Said Facio: "It's challenging my studio practice; definitely challenging my technique; and it's really making me think beyond what I typically make. I'm creating something that has significance."


That is exactly how the program is intended to work," said Julie Marie Lemon, who launched ASCI in 2010 and is its program director and curator.


"They begin to teach each other, she said. "It makes better scientists; it makes better artists."

Rebecca Duclos, dean of graduate studies at SAIC, sees another value for artists — breaking down stereotypes they may hold of scientists as engaged in dry exercises proving objective facts.


"In fact, the scientists work very much like the artists," she said. "They probe around; they make mistakes. ... I think what both these disciplines are finding with each other is that research is this magic dance between linear, logical discovery and beautiful accident, spontaneity and intuition."



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