‘Science Exposed’ Binds Passion for Science, Art through Creative Performances

‘Science Exposed’ Binds Passion for Science, Art through Creative Performances

April 9, 2018

  • Science Exposed

    Dancers perform at "Science Exposed" at the Biodesign Institute on April 4, 2018.


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  • Science Exposed

    Biodesign researcher Christine Lewis greets visitors before showing them a light-sensitive experiment for "Magnetic Chamber."


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  • Science Exposed

    A dancer showcases how electrons are excited during "Magnetic Chamber."


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  • Science Exposed

    Biodesign researchers and dancers perform "Still Crossing" as the finale for "Science Exposed. 


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  • Science Exposed

    "A Pox on Cancer" greets guests on "Science Exposed. 


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April 9, 2018

A scientist in a white lab coat greets you at the entryway of a corridor. She tells you about a light-sensitive experiment taking place and instructs you to take good visual notes. Inside the corridor, photosynthesis, in the form of a dancer in a sparkly silver jumpsuit, stands on a raised platform. She moves and poses while phrases that say “energy as electricity” and “to dance our energy” project on the wall next to her.

At the end of the corridor, another dancer slinks out from around the corner, using mirrors to display a double image. She slowly examines her space at first, then the dance culminates in faster and quicker movements that include blue lit-up orbs frantically moving in her hands. Then at a moment’s notice, she exits the space through a side door. As viewers leave the corridor, they’re encouraged to write down what they witnessed on clipboards hanging from the ceiling. The clipboards displayed words such as kinetic, energizing and innovative.

This creative performance was one of a dozen collaborations between scientists from Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and artists from Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts for one-night-only performances of “Science Exposed: Bringing Science to Life through the Arts” on April 4.

About 200 people attended both performances of “Science Exposed” where nine scientists teamed up with 18 students to create 13 innovative artistic collaborations that explore the effects of Lyme Disease, how opportunistic germs can exploit the human body, and discussion of human behavior, sex and AIDS, among others.

The two shows each began with a demonstration in the Biodesign lobby and a performance in the auditorium. Guests were instructed to set an alarm on their cellphones to meet in the building’s basement about an hour later. Guests could then walk the building and check out various performance stations, which included spoken word, dancing, light and visual displays, and music.

Biodesign Professor Cheryl Nickerson, who studies the effects of biomechanical forces on living cells, collaborated with dancers Quinn Mihalovic and Elle Spinelli to explore how salmonella reacts within and without the human body. Nickerson was especially proud of how beautifully Mihalovic and Spinelli conveyed her team’s spaceflight research “through innovative dance choreography and music.”

“It was a wonderful experience for me as a scientist to work closely with and learn from each of you during this process – you have made me think deeply about how science can be more effectively communicated to the public,” Nickerson said of the two students.

The performance also included beams of light as the dancers moved above and below the building staircase. Mihalovic said he and Spinelli worked to “unravel how we have interpreted the information about salmonella from Cheryl while utilizing gestures, text, and other elements to give our best explication of the amazing and innovative work the Nickerson lab is doing.”

For the second year in a row, dance legend, choreographer, MacArthur Fellow and Herberger Professor Liz Lerman brought her students to the Biodesign laboratories to create an artistic experience that illustrates research and scientific work.

Wednesday night’s performances culminated in the Biodesign basement where two different yet equally powerful conversations about cancer and AIDS took place. Lastly, scientists, students and Biodesign faculty alike participated in a portion of the 1986 piece “Still Crossing” that honors the arrival of immigrants to the United States. Many of the guests said they were especially moved by this finale.

After the 7 p.m. show, guests were invited to a wine-and-cheese reception at reception at the James Turrell Air Apparent Skyspace sculpture, where guests listened to the music of Joe Blattman’s flamenco guitar music under the night skies and artistic light display.

The scientists who participated were Athena Aktipis, Christine Lewis, Bert Jacobs, Carlo Maley, Grant McFadden, Cheryl Nickerson, Scott Sayers, Pamela Winfrey and Arvind Varsani. The students who participated were: Mac Allen, Muneera Batool, Coley Curry, Taylor Ford, Geneva Fostergluck, Tasha Love, Manon Goodrich, Tatiana Jacques, Emily Laird, Tremayne Manahane, Sumana Mandala, Lauren Mark, Quinn Mihalovic, Neda Mohaved, Matt Nock, Mary Raunikar, Elle Spinelli, Tiffany Velazquez.

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Science Exposed 2018

 

Written by: Jean Clare Sarmiento