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Intersections: the Art and Science of Light experiments in Holography, Photography and Mixed Media by Lori Napoleon, Ed Wesly, and Todd Johnson

On Display: 9/22/08 – 11/10/08

9/26/08 - Lecture 12-1pm Curia II - Wilson Hall
Artist Reception
9/26/08 5-7pm
Fermilab Art Gallery, Wilson Hall

Intersections: the Art and Science of Light showcases works of holographic and multimedia art by Tevatron operations specialist Todd Johnson, photographer/holographer and former Fermilab researcher Ed Wesly (bubble chamber experiment E-632) , and holography/light artist Lori Napoleon. The show can ultimately be traced back to the Fermilab bubble chamber experiment in the mid-80's and the part holography played in it. The artists come from diverse backgrounds - engineering, education, laser optics, and fine arts - but the space where these interests overlap in science-inspired art (combined with Fermilab's part in the convergence of such wide-ranging disciplines) has made it possible for them to meet, collaborate, and celebrate how physics and art can be mutually appreciated. In this exhibit they present a visual history and documentation of the bubble chamber experiment, as well as individual works.

Lori Napoleon

Why do makers make things? What are we saying here, attempting to do? To reveal or transform, to show alternatives, to make ignored or 'mundane' phenomena comprehensible and evocative, to play and inspire others to do the same!
I was initially attracted to holography for its haunting realism and reconstruction of depth; the 'magic' of an ethereal, simulated image ("suspending the real" as Baudrillard would say). But it was the process of learning how they actually work which led to a fascination with optics and, subsequently, physical phenomena on every scale. As I began to look at the world through a diffraction grating, I was compelled to shift my artistic focus from my original training in painting, to explorations in light as a medium unto itself.
Nearly all of my work involves a component of light. Issues of light and color relate to so many fields, from aspects of particles, detectors, and the electromagnetic spectrum, to psychological moods and social associations. Beyond its countless behaviors, light is an extremely powerful communications vehicle which exudes emotion, helps us navigate and conveys information. The multiple disciplines that this medium crosses provides numerous models of viewing "reality;" always present is this simultaneity between our sensing of the physical world and our interpretation of it. I strive to place my work on the cusp of these two types of experience by bringing out the physicality of the material while making aesthetic decisions that still leave space for mystery and wonder. Engaging the immediacy of our sensory perceptions - the passage of time, light, shadow, transparency - just to be able to grab someone's attention and make them deeply look at something in order to inspire wonder and curiosity in the viewer is my goal. I see light as a delicate interplay of serene to quirky physical attributes coupled with the emotional content of moods, dreams and mythologies.
Understanding the nature of light has led, of course, to scientific innovations and countless applications which have affected the world immeasurably - from revealing the contents and motions of stars to extending our working hours well past sundown. But it also inspires appreciation of structure and our own perception in a way that can be observed in the everyday lives of anyone with two retinas - our own biological interface.
My interests in the "nature of nature" are what led me to my frequent visits to Ask-A-Scientist, on the suggestion of Ed Wesly. His description of the bubble chamber fueled my initial visit, which led to many others and secured physics' influence in my own works to come. I have an immense amount of gratitude to the many people I've met at Fermilab whose tireless explanations and generosity towards me will have a lasting impact on my work and perspective. As a Master's Candidate at New York University's interdisciplinary Interactive Telecommunications Program, I am constantly exposed to the effectiveness of a cross-curricular dialogue between the arts, science, and technology. As all of these develop within our shared societal and cultural framework, all disciplines benefit from such a discourse. It is for this reason that I feel that what both art and science have to offer can be used in tandem to elucidate, educate, and inspire.
I can be contacted at lori.napoleon@gmail.com


Todd Johnson

I view most things as manifestations of applied physics, art included. While some may think this is a cold and emotionless way to view the world, I find that to the contrary, using laws of nature to express a creative outlet often allows a greater appreciation for the wonder and complexity of the world in which we find ourselves. I find that the orderly way in which interference patterns of light conspire to record a hologram, and the intricate patterns formed by the unleashing of very large voltages both illustrate the beauty of some of the fundamental mechanisms of nature.


Ed Wesly

I got my MFA from Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the famous cartoon and automobile artist, when I was but a wee lad in high school. I met him at a custom car show, and being a teenager from Chicago, I asked him for an explanation of what was on one of his tee shirts that he had for sale at his booth, "Coors - Breakfast of Champions". "That's a West of the Mississippi beer," he replied. "Why did you put it on a tee shirt?" I followed up with, and he answered, "Because it looks good!" That has been my major artistic dictum ever since.


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