Science-influenced art, or SciArt, is not a new genre. Artists have always watched science for new inspiration, and found beauty in the raw data. There are people out there wearing tattoos of the first-ever photograph of DNA’s helical structure, and architecture themed around the shape of the vibrations of a church bell. Science is beautiful, and that is the message of “Compendium,” a collaborative show of 13 artists at the Islip Art Museum.
That inspiration by science is the only theme linking the work of all thirteen – their mediums vary from pen-and-paper to 3D printing, and their subjects from candy-like pills to the true shape of wind.
Julia Buntaine’s vivid, abstract-seeming art is an exploration of data from the field of neuroscience, based on human experiments from the 1960s by Russian psychologist Alfred L. Yarbus, mapping eye movements.
Brandon Belangee’s art is science: specimens of fish, frogs, and birds chemically altered to transparency and photographed against a backdrop that could be sea, stars, or neither.
Beverly Fishman’s subject is pharmaceuticals, or specifically, the ways in which they’re marketed. Her paintings and sculptures show pills and tablets in lurid candy colors, as seductive as the way they’re advertised.
Michelle Frick, Laura Splan, and Elaine Whittaker, independently, each addressed the science of illness and contagion via augmented hospital and lab supplies, digital prints, and 3D-printed objects stained with blood. While each approached that topic in their own way, the three together make a sort of narrative, from infection to treatment to the lasting trauma of illness.
On a scale both like and unlike the rest, Gianluca Bianchino’s installation piece “Space Junk #2,” uses found objects, lights, and peepholes to draw the viewer into considering the cosmos as a whole.
Mark Nystrom, whose skittery pencil sketches of wind are created with the aid of wind monitors, a microcomputer and software designed by Nystrom, says that harnessing what might be incomprehensible to most is the central tenet of “Compendium” and SciArt in general.
“If you start reading journals,” Nystrom said, meaning academic science publications, “they’re not going to make sense. But the artist’s ability to use this complex information, this dense stuff, and make something with it — that resonates.”
“Compendium” will remain at the Islip Art Museum through December 27, 2015. Admission is $15, $25 for special seating.