Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Changing Perspectives - videos inspired by science-inspired fiction

The launch on Friday of the Changing Perspectives art/science exhibition at the Grant Bradley Gallery in which I have several art pieces (my first time ever attempting a piece of artwork featuring some of my stories) was great fun! Do try and get down there if you are in Bristol - and check out all the events during this month long celebration of art inspired by science.

If you can't make it, here are two brand newly-commissioned films inspired by two of my short stories - which in turn were inspired by science. Enjoy!

'We are All Made of Protein but Some of us GLow More than Others ' from richard ocallaghan on Vimeo.

Read the short story of the same title that inspired this piece here.

'Like Flowers' from James Murray-White and Steve Mazillius on Vimeo.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Your Science Faculty Blog Needs You!

***The course is now full but due to the overwhelming response there may be a second course, later in the year. Email me if you'd like to be notified about that. ***

Your Science Faculty Blog Needs You!

Yes, you are reading this blog, that much is true. But ever wondered what "blogs" are all about? Who writes them? Who reads  them? Why would anyone do that? How do I join in? I'm running a new course to answer  all your questions and equip you with the tools to blog here with me  - about your  research, your course, science in general or anything else science-related of interest to you.

The six-week course of two-hour sessions, open to undergrads and postgrads, will be run by me, the Science Faculty writer-in-residence, Tania Hershman (www.taniahershman.com), award-winning fiction writer, former science journalist and experienced blogger.

No writing skills needed, just curiosity and enthusiasm!  Places are limited, the course will probably be held in the evenings. Contact tania.hershman@bris.ac.uk for more details.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Changing Perspectives - you will want to come to this!

The University of Bristol’s exciting series of art-science activities – Changing Perspectives – is fast-approaching.  With free exhibitions, talks, workshops and a family-friendly day of circus-inspired science, there is something for everyone...

More information and a full list of events is available at bristol.ac.uk/changingperspectives

Saturday 19 March 10 am – 5 pm
Experience Changing Perspectives
Watch aerial circus performers, learn how they accomplish their extraordinary feats and discover how your body works with TV presenter Alice Roberts.  Take part in body painting and talk to researchers from the University of Bristol about cutting edge research – in anatomy and physiology, neuroscience, robotics and biomechanics – happening in your city.
Venue Circomedia, Portland Square, Bristol BS2 8SJ

Saturday 26 March – Saturday 30 April 2011
Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
Changing Perspectives exhibition at the Grant Bradley Gallery
A vibrant exhibition of art inspired by the life sciences and medicine, including medical student and patient reflections, research images as art, science-inspired fiction, and chances for you to share your perspectives on the body.
Venue Grant Bradley Gallery, 1 St Peter’s Court, Bedminster Parade, BS3 4AQ

Friday 1 April – Saturday 30 April 2011
Monday – Friday 10 am – 6 pm; Saturday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Changing Perspectives exhibition at the Bristol Gallery
How do we visualise and express things we can’t see?  Explore the complex worlds of mathematics, physics, chemistry and physical geography through a stunning range of sculpture, drawings, film and animation, and photography.
Venue Bristol Gallery, Millennium Promenade, Harbourside, BS1 5TY

Talks and events:

Tuesday 29 March 2011, 6pm
Out of Our Heads: where art meets medicine

Monday 4 April 2011, 4 pm
The 100-year hunt for Red Sprites

Tuesday 5 April 2011, 6 pm

Thursday 7 April 2011, 6 pm
Inspired Engineering

Tuesday 12 April 2011, 6 pm
Manipulating biologies: convergences and divergences of bioart and biosciences

Tuesday 19 April 2011, 6 pm
Science-inspired fiction - Open Mic Night

Changing Perspectives is a series of free public exhibitions, talks, workshops and performances that explores the fascinating connections between art and science.  We’ll be seeing what happens when fiction meets cell biology, when chaotic systems meet crochet and when medicine meets art.  We invite you to participate and share your perspective with academics, students and artists.  

More information and a full list of events is available at bristol.ac.uk/changingperspectives

Download the flier here (PDF, 1.1MB), and follow us on Twitter for new, provocative perspectives throughout March and April – CPE_Bristol #chngpersp

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Philip Ball Talks About Colour

Philip Ball seems to me something of a force of nature. He studied Chemistry and then received a PhD in Physics from Bristol University, a contemporary of our own Dean of Science, and now he is science writer extraordinaire - just check out his website, the list and breadth of publications is, well, breath-taking! Actually, I had expected him to be much much older... he seems to have fitted in an immense amount already!

I was excited about hearing him talk about "The Invention of Colour" yesterday as the Autumn Art Lecture in the Wills Memorial Building, and first impressions did not disappoint: he wore a red shirt and a red and yellow striped tie. Nice. The topic was one he dealt with in a recent book, Bright Earth, and it was fascinating. He took us on an hour-long tour through the history of art by examining the materials used. He told us about paint.

Now I'd not thought much about paint. Apparently, neither do today's painters, given the vast choice of colours available in every good art shop. But it was not always so. The earliest painters, like those who painted on the walls of caves, just used earth so the tones were brownish and reddish. Ball explained how every culture seems to have begun with the same palette of colours, in the same order: Black, White, Red and then Yellow/Green. And then the colour palette began to widen. He showed how one element can be treated to produce different coloured pigments - Cadmium, for example, can be yellow, orange, red or even black.) Ultramarine was highly prized, coming from the very expensive lapis lazuli. And as new pigments were discovered, the colours in paintings changed and this changed how painters approached what they painted. Also, pigments, which were dry powders, were first mixed with egg yolk to make paint and then later on with oil, which made for an entirely different painting.

Towards the beginning of the 20th century, Ball explained, pigments began to be synthesized, and in fact almost every major chemical company today began by making synthetic paints. And this led to mass production and every colour under the sun. He showed us a picture of International Klein Blue, an astonishing colour which just wouldn't look right on the computer screen, developed by artist Yves Klein using synthetic ultramarine. The paint is almost matt and I wanted to reach out and stroke it.  Funnily enough, I had just read Zero History, William Gibson's latest novel, in which a character wears a startling Klein Blue suit.

The lecture really changed my thinking about how the materials available affect the art that is produced. I know how writing on the computer is different for me than writing by hand, but I can't imagine having to make my materials myself. Ball ended with a wonderful quote about Picasso - a note that he had written that sounded like a poem but was in fact his shopping list for colours. It does feel as though we may have gained a great deal with synthethic pigments, but something has also been lost along the way, an artist's direct and tangible contact with her materials.