Particle physics art

Dishman Art Museum exhibition mixes science and art

Linda Alterwitz, Dornith Doherty, Rashed Haq and Liz Hickock are photographers, although this is a reductive term compared to the works exhibited in “Crystal Realities to Artificial Intelligence: Multidisciplinary Explorations in Photography”, exhibited at the Lamar University until November 12. .

Artists draw on a variety of scientific research to create images that exhibit the beauty of the natural and scientific worlds.

Alterwitz combines photography with medical research to explore the invisible rhythms of the human body. She started working with medical images, specifically brain scans, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor 20 to 25 years ago. During a panel discussion on September 24, she said she saw her brain scanned on a light box and instead of being afraid that something was wrong, she felt reassured to to be in good hands. Thus, his work began to consider the issue of fear and security.

His first images were algae, then scans of cats and dogs, then human scans. Ultimately, her work is a blend of nature and medical technology, creating brainwaves in a sanctuary represented by nature.

“Untitled 2 (I Behold)” features a large photograph of a tree silhouetted against a cloudy sky. Suspended in front of the image, floating like a cloud, is a mesh screen of a medical scanner. Looking through the meshes, we are invited to reflect on the rhythm that binds us to nature.

Doherty said her work explores the poetic qualities of art and life at the intersection of art and technology. She researched global “biological backup”, seed storage facilities for use in the event of global devastation. She is invested in the management of natural resources, the quest to preserve life, she said.

For a decade, Doherty has visited seed banks and his work includes X-raying seeds and research seedlings. One of the images, “More Than This”, is a large grid of unique images, featuring 5,000 seed images, which is the number it would take to be able to piece together a species. Doherty’s desire, she says, is to observe and protect life.

Haq is a mathematical physicist who developed AI software. His work is a collage of physics and photography. While using AI software in his physics research, he decided to use it in his art. He referred to “computational creativity” in AI technology. He said he can’t separate the two, that science is a creative act.

Haq’s pieces are part of a series created by taking 1,500 portraits and scanning them. He then used software to manipulate the images until only 10% of the image was still “good” data. Then he used software he developed to try to recreate the original image. The software couldn’t because it couldn’t replicate the “bad” data. Haq ended up with a series of surreal images, some resembling the twisted portraits of Francis Bacon. A portrait has an animal feel, like the hybrid creatures from Dr. Moreau’s island. They are both fascinating and disturbing.

Hickock blends science and nature by constructing intricate cityscapes using sculptures and crystals which she then photographs.

She began her career making small sculptures of cityscapes out of jello, which allowed light to pass through the colors. She also realized, as a San Francisco resident, that the jelly shook when people walked too hard, reflecting the beautiful but fragile city itself, she said.

After that, she became interested in “Growing Crystal Sets”. She said they are simple but magical. She took the kits and pushed them to their limits, creating vibrantly colored, translucent cityscapes. It was augmented reality.

“From Crystal Realities to Artificial Intelligence” is a fascinating exhibit. The fact that the artists use photography, which is necessarily a scientific medium, integrating technology in both capturing and producing the images, adds another layer. There is no art without science, but without art technology is a hidden layer of reality. It’s really quite meta (lowercase m). But that’s the point, if we really think about it.

The Dishman Art Museum is located at 1030 E. Lavaca on the Lamar University campus. To learn more, visit