Our Chief Article Writer Brittany Sutcliffe visited “Insight”, a collaborative exhibition put together by AUB’s Interior Architecture and Fine Art students and Oxford’s Structural Genomics Consortium (ooOOoo). Here’s what she has to say.
This exhibition was caked with examples of how art can link with other subjects, specifically science and how art provides conceptual analysis to an already empirical subject. I think the confusion over art’s application to other subjects comes where people just assume that they’re so incredibly different, “they must be irrelevant to each other!”. C’mon guys. Opposites attract.
From my own experience with fine art, I know that to get through the course, you need to work out a series of constants that work for you. A media you like. A theme you could talk for days about. A signature move/technique you coin for yourself. Constants that, in this exhibition, equate to constants in scientific experiments. If you don’t have controls in an experiment, you don’t have a grounds for comparison where too many substances are working without moderation – you don’t know where to look. Meliz Sabaci’s “100 hours and 7 minutes” was a set of instructional works based on scientific investigation. The results were 20 20x20cm paintings, each one tampering with factors like the amount of paint. The repetition and slight adjustments reflected care and respect for the process even though the board size might have implied a quicker make time.
A lot of the works used visualised ways of thinking, almost as a way of bringing attention to how we think in an attempt to judge and improve it. Ava Rawbone and Sachina Sunuwar both did a service to those who perhaps feel that their school system is discouraging them, especially with a generation that suffers from having short attention spans. A classroom needs to adapt to how we now learn and both works accommodate to this. They use light and the surrounding area to engage their audience, recognising that we’re a visually-led bunch that need something eye-catching to keep us going.
Deborah Locke touched on the issue in a similar way, using play as a form of education. Evolving previous methods to intrigue and make often a conclusive subject appear student-centred, led by you instead of sitting in a seat and being talked at.
It became clearer and clearer to me what purpose art has with science. The works highlighted art as a means to satisfying a very human, emotionally intense end to an otherwise distant and resolute subject. All that looking through a microscope has you forgetting there’s a person made up from all those cells. We had Emilie-Jane Osborne who correlated tracing paper, the light from a window, and patterns taken from around the SGC in order to ask you to concentrate on making the link between the focus on a microscope and the people under it.
Laura Haylock-Ashdown also acknowledges us as cells, if highly complex ones at that. By forming a work around kinetic movement, she’s simplified and documented a process, processes that we don’t perhaps consider ourselves as constantly doing in our everyday lives (I.e. Eating as she mentions trying to recreate the tertiary structure of proteins in our bodies).
We had Olivia Haettmark who created as a means of communication and discussion to bring attention to another person’s pain and trauma. A way of spreading empathy, perhaps something missing from medical practice; a list of symptoms, a type of surgery, the options for treatment. It can be quite cold. Olivia’s work is made from Pewter and she also coordinated the exhibition.
Manika Arora took a similar angle to Olivia, using diseases as a focal point. Bringing together the individual communication of one person’s experiences with the harshness of the reality, something the scientific spectrum misses. This isn’t to say our doctors or nurses or scientists lack feelings in their own lives but the processes that we get lost in to learn more about the body. We need to be objective in research and experimentation in order to see things that we’d normally miss, art has it’s place afterwards as a means to reflect on the societal impact or the emotional wellbeing of those affected by the amazing work that’s been done.
Marius Samavicious combined the curious objects that we’ve created in our time to bring light to their uniqueness. It can be said that we lack in creating tools, even the ones that just help us to pass the time. Ah, reminds of the humble days of playing with dolls. Marius has filled a jar with tinsel, sausages and a baby head as though to preserve them. Drawing attention to their simplicity and yet their value. When we take these items out of their functional context they’re so strange, something to appreciate. What are they to each of us?
Christian Kinis’ clever interpretation of the task touched on how all angles and educations are of value if someone can hold two juxtaposed values in mind. How science and religion can still hold equal relevance to someone when they’re often seen as opposing. Christian had used a skeleton and laid it on it’s back with its arms crossed – simply by giving an educational prop a hint of body language, he can imply the complexity of the human mind as if fights between logic and emotion.
I felt extremely lucky to be able to go to INSIGHT, to flex my own Fine Art muscles as I read through the booklet, my mind blown at the sheer thought that’s gone into each piece. Not just that, but the effort that went into directing everyone around the site and the appropriate placement of the work in the spaces around the Radcliffe Science Library. The exhibition is on until the 16th June but only by appointment, I’d thoroughly recommend making your way up to Oxford for this to better your understanding of collaboration.
Words by Brittany Sutcliffe, Photographs by Rory James