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The past few decades have seen ever-more fertile interpenetrations between the arts and sciences, which is to say a return to the way things used to be in the times of Michelangelo and Leonardo, before the artificial division of those realms about three hundred years ago. Thus, to take just one example, Matthew Shlian, the first artist awarded the Frederick Hammersley Artist Residency, is as at home fashioning his own paper-folding marvels as he is consulting with microbiologists on protein folding or materials scientists on molecular arrays.
In the spirit of Shlian’s work, Tamarind will be hosting a Wonder Cabinet in Albuquerque, April 20-22, 2018. Longtime New Yorker staff-writer Lawrence Weschler, director emeritus of both the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and the Chicago Humanities Festival, will curate the weekend of presentations, panels, demonstrations, and astonishments of all sorts.
On Friday evening at George Pearl Hall, Lawrence Weschler will open the Wonder Cabinet with a lavishly illustrated talk on Art & Science as Parallel and Divergent Ways of Knowing (originally fashioned as the keynote for a National Science Foundation symposium). Following Weschler’s talk, Tamarind will open an exhibition featuring new three-dimensional lithographs by Matthew Shlian, alongside path breaking computer drawings by Frederick Hammersley from back in the sixties. The opening reception will feature the unveiling of Shlian’s newly installed piece in Tamarind’s Central-facing window and will then proceed to Tamarind’s second-floor gallery. All events are free and open to the public.
The Saturday and Sunday portion of the Wonder Cabinet will take place at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, where Robert Krulwich, the marvelous co-host of NPR’s Radiolab program, will join Weschler as moderator.
On Saturday, the Wonder Cabinet will kick off with a celebration evoking the person and art of the eminent late Albuquerque-based artist Frederick Hammersley, a charmingly sly lay-mathematician in his own right, whose Foundation is helping to sponsor this entire weekend. Speakers will include Elizabeth East, Director of LA Louver, and Joseph Traugott, independent curator and writer, and member of the Frederick Hammersley Foundation Board of Directors.
Optical Marvels will feature the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio’s incredible Liminal Camera —a giant moveable camera built from a shipping container that visitors may enter to see the image of the world turned upside-down. Optics Division artists Lauren Bon, Richard Nielsen, and Tristan Duke will also display their room-length photographs and explain their fascinating project to mine the materials necessary to make photography from the landscape. Trevor and Ryan Oakes, the so-called “Perspective Twins,” celebrated for their invention of a method for rendering camera-obscura-exact pen and ink drawings, deploying no other equipment than their own two eyes, will then display instances of same Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the TedTalk superstar and inventor of Photosynth, currently a leader in Google’s machine intelligence, computer vision and computational photography initiatives, will join in.
The third session, Foldings and Other Mathematical and Topological Splendors, will begin with a talk by paper engineer extraordinaire Matthew Shlian, after which he will be in dialog with his collaborator at the University of Michigan, chemical engineer and materials scientist, Sharon Glotzer, and David Krakauer, president and William H. Miller professor of complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute. Tristan Duke will return to display some confounding geometric constructs of his own, including his hand-drawn holograms —a technology which he developed for his fine art and has applied to make hologram vinyl records from albums ranging from Jack White, to Star Wars.. Walter Murch, all around polymath and arguably one of the greatest film and sound editors in the world today, will Skype in with a slide lecture propounding an astonishing new theory about the origins, placement and function of Egypt’s ancient pyramids.
During the lunch break, the Liminal Camera (on site at the National Hispanic Cultural Center during the sessions) will be available for entering and viewing, after which, Tamarind invites participants to come back for Brain and Cosmos, Dendrites and Decision Trees. Columbia University neuroscientist Carl Schoonover (Portraits of Mind) will share his laptop, full of extraordinary microscopic images of the brain, and match it off against those found in the laptop of Michael Benson, the maven behind such books of telescopic and space probe photographic splendors as Beyond, Far Out and Cosmigraphics. Schoonover will stick around to engage with New York-based artist Beth Campbell, whose art consists of complex decision trees graphing the implications of her own everyday dilemmas, in a conversation welling out from the question, do we think the way we do because of the way our brains are wired?
Sunday morning will start with Particle Physics and Native American Cosmologies and will feature Taos-based artist Agnes Chavez, who is currently serving as artistic director to design a permanent installation visualizing data from the Large Hadron Collider, CERN, Switzerland, with Greg Cajete, a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo and the director of Native American Studies at The University of New Mexico, in a conversation about Chavez, her work, and its resonances with Native American cosmologies.
Albuquerque itself, and in particular The University of New Mexico, is one of the nation’s most fertile centers for the interpenetration of science and art, and Big Data will shine a special light on some of the area’s most vivid instances, with designer Alex Webb, chair of the Computational Ecologies program in the School of Architecture and Planning, and artist, engineer and ecologist Andrea Polli, who chairs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab in the University’s Center for Advanced Research Computing. R. Luke DuBois, composer, artist, and performer of New York University will join Webb and Polli in this discussion.
The weekend will culminate with a celebration of 2001: A Space Odyssey, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, with Michael Benson, author of the just released book Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke and the Making of a Masterpiece, joined in conversation by Weschler and Krulwich. David Krakauer will also present a short related lecture on monoliths through the ages.
This program and some of the particular orderings are subject to addition and change. Tamarind Institute is encouraging those interested to follow developments on Facebook and at tamarind.unm.edu/wondercabinet, as this extraordinary event continues to unfold.
April 20, Lawrence Weschler keynote will take place at George Pearl Hall, School of Architecture & Planning, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
April 20, Opening reception will take place at Tamarind Institute.
April 21-22 Wonder Cabinet at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque.
Schedule, bios, locations and more online at tamarind.unm.edu/wondercabinet.