Art and Science: The Two Cultures Converging

December 1-3, 2017

Past Event

Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.

—Albert Einstein

We have every reason to believe that different disciplines and dedications have much to gain from each other. Imhotep, one of the earliest polymaths, was a physician, astronomer, and an engineer—but, as an architect, he also had a gift for design, and as a poet, a penchant for the art of writing. Far away, millennia later, Zhang Heng became noted in the histories of the Han Dynasty as an early scientist and scholar, although this was not at any expense for talent of art, as his contemporary wrote that “the splendour of his art were one with those of the gods.” Likewise, from the works of Da Vinci and Hildegard de Bingen, to geniuses of our time, the bond between the sciences and art is observed across the world and throughout the ages.

This is not just true within individuals or a phenomenon seen in great thinkers alone. Our quotidian experience tells us so, abundant with the evidence of each field’s dependence on, and advancement of, the other: from the drawing of star maps and anatomical sketches to the math and physics of optics and perspective, to the latest technological advances in computer design.

Two cultures converge as we discuss the significance of art and science in this three day series.

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Presented by the Helix Center for Interdiscplinary Investigation and SciArt Center


December 1, Friday:
6:30-7:30pm: Conference kick-off reception & opening remarks (snacks and refreshments will be served)

7:30-9pm: Science-Art Collaboration Roundtable #1
(Mark Rosin, Shane Mayak, Tyler Volk, Noah Hutton, Jame McCray, and Monica Aiello)

December 2, Saturday:
9am: Doors open

9:30-11am: STEAM & the Future of Education Roundtable #1
(Roger Malina, Ashley Bear, Nirav Patel, Elizabeth Waters, Tarah Rhoda, and Tyler Aiello)

11-11:15am: Artistic Interlude curated by Cynthia Pannucci of Art & Science Collaborations

11:15am-11:30am: Coffee break

11:30am-1pm: Science, Art & Society Roundtable #1
(Erik Hoel, Alana Quinn, Ben Lillie, David Grinspoon, Elizabeth Demaray, and Stuart Firestein)

1-2:15pm Lunch on your own

2:15-3:45pm: Science-Art Collaboration Roundtable #2 ​
(Daniel Kohn, Edgar Choureiri, Tega Brain, Patricia Olynyk, Karen Ingram, and Alexis Gambis)

3:45-4pm: Artistic Interlude curated by Jame Mcray

4-4:15pm: Coffee break

4:15-5:45pm: STEAM & the Future of Education Roundtable #2
(Harvey Seifter, Jill Bargonetti, Paul Fry, Cynthia Pannucci, Daniel Grushkin, and Ellen Levy)

7-9:30pm: Art night out!
Art reception & refreshments at UES Gallery, 208 E 73rd St, New York NY*
*This reception is the opening night of “The Void and the Cloud,” a science-based art exhibition hosted by SciArt Center in
tandem with this conference. The reception is open the public and will include music and refreshments. Conference participants
are encouraged to attend.

December 3, Sunday:
9:30am: Doors open

10-11:30am: Science, Art & Society Roundtable #2
(Natalie Jeremijenko, Daniel Hill, Amelia Amon, Paul Browde, Nancy Princenthal, Suzanne Anker, and Farzad Mahootian)

11:30-11:45am: Artistic Interlude by Dr. Shirley Mueller

11:45am-12:15pm: Wrap Up – Science-Art Futures: What does the future hold for science, art, technology, education, and society? How do we move forward from here? All participants will take part in this session.

12:15-12:30pm: Closing remarks

12:30-1pm: Make your own Polyhedra Nightlight (courtesy of Eurekus)

1pm: End


Denver-based duo Monica and Tyler Aiello are award-winning artists and pioneering STEAM specialists recognized for their work uniting art, science, and engineering. For more than a decade, they have collaborated with NASA and the scientific community to create fine art and public practice initiatives that galvanize transdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement. As co-founders of Eurekus,… read more »

Amelia Amon is a solar designer with an aesthetic approach to integrating sustainable energy into the built environment. Her design company develops products and installations, including a solar awnings with architects, solar signage for wayfinding, dark-sky compliant solar LED lights for SolarOne Solutions, solar sculptural trackers for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), interpretive… read more »

Suzanne Anker is a visual artist and theorist working at the intersection of art and the biological sciences. She works in a variety of mediums ranging from digital sculpture and installation to large-scale photography to plants grown by LED lights. Her work has been shown both nationally and internationally in museums and galleries including the… read more »

Jill Bargonetti is a Full Professor at The City University of New York (CUNY) at Hunter College and The Graduate Center in the PhD Programs of Biology and Biochemistry. In 2015 she joined the Cornell Medical Center Hunter College Belfer Research team as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. In 1997 she… read more »

Dr. Ashley Bear is a Program Officer with the Board on Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In this capacity, Dr. Bear manages a portfolio of projects dealing with critical issues in higher education. She is currently the study director for a National Academies consensus study tasked with… read more »

Tega Brain is an artist and environmental engineer making eccentric engineering. Her work intersects art, ecology and engineering, addressing the scope and politics of emerging technologies. It takes the form of site specific public works, dysfunctional devices, experimental infrastructures and information systems. Brain is a fellow at Data & Society and is an Assistant Professor… read more »

Paul Browde

Psychiatrist, teaching faculty in the Department of Narrative Medicine, Columbia University

Paul Browde is a psychiatrist and teaching faculty in the Department of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. The ethical stance of Narrative therapy shapes his clinical work. He works with both individuals and couples exploring the relational space and the reciprocal relationship between listening and telling. Paul is co-creator and performer of Two Men Talking,… read more »

Professor Edgar Choueiri is Director of Princeton University’s Program in Engineering Physics, and Director of Princeton’s Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory (EPPDyL). He is tenured Full Professor in the Applied Physics Group at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, and associated faculty at the Astrophysical Sciences Department/Program in Plasma Physics at Princeton University. He… read more »

Elizabeth Demaray is a fine artist whose research area is the interface between the built and the natural environment. Working in sculpture, digital media and eco-art, she designs listening stations for birds that play human music, cultures lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City, and manufactures alternative forms of housing for hermit… read more »

Stuart Firestein

Former Chair of Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University

Stuart Firestein is the former Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences, where he studies the vertebrate olfactory system. Aside from its molecular detection capabilities, the olfactory system serves as a model for investigating general principles and mechanisms of signaling and perception in the brain. Dr. Firestein’s laboratory seeks to answer that fundamental human… read more »

Paul Fry

William Lampson Professor of English, Yale University

Paul H. Fry is the William Lampson Professor of English and has taught at Yale since 1971. He received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley and his Ph. D. from Harvard. His primary areas of specialization are British romanticism, the history of literary criticism, contemporary literary theory, and literature in relation to the… read more »

Alexis Gambis is a filmmaker and a biologist whose interdisciplinary work aims at transforming the way science is communicated to the public through film and visual arts. His first feature film The Fly Room has toured festivals and academic institutions worldwide ending with a theatrical release in New York, Paris, and Berlin in the fall… read more »

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist and prize-winning author. He is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. His research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe. He is involved with several interplanetary spacecraft missions for NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency…. read more »

Daniel Grushkin is co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace. He is also the founder of the Biodesign Challenge. Daniel is a Fellow at Data & Society. From 2013-2014, he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he researched synthetic biology. He was an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity at the UPMC… read more »

Daniel Hill is an abstract painter and sound artist whose work has been included in numerous exhibitions exploring the relationship between painting, sound, and science. Recent exhibitions include: Brattleboro Museum of Art (2016/17), NurtureArt (2016/17), Holland Tunnel Gallery- Greece (2016), Pace University (2015), Margret Thatcher Projects (2014), and McKenzie Fine Art (2012, 2013). Collections that… read more »

Erik Hoel received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University. His family owns Jabberwocky Books, an independent bookstore anchored for more than 40 years in Newburyport MA. He is the co-founder of YHouse, a non-profit here in New York City that hosts events which… read more »

Noah Hutton is a film director and founder of the website The Beautiful Brain. He has presented on art and neuroscience at the Venice Biennale, Impakt Festival, Society for Neuroscience, Wellcome Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere. In 2015 he was named a Salzburg Global Fellow in Neuroscience & Art, and created Brain City,… read more »

​Karen Ingram is a creative director, designer, and artist who uses her skill set to promote scientific awareness. As a Synthetic Biology LEAP fellow, she is recognized as an emerging leader in synthetic biology. Karen co-authored “Biobuilder: Synthetic Biology in the Lab” (O’Reilly, 2015), a synbio curriculum in which she crafted visual elements. Since 2012… read more »

​In 2014 VIDA Art and Artificial Life International Awards Pioneer Prize was awarded to Natalie Jeremijenko “for her consistently brilliant portfolio of work over the past two decades.” (a prize only awarded once before to Laurie Anderson). Awarded the 2013 Most Innovative People, named of the most influential women in technology 2011, one of the… read more »

Born in 1964 in Ahmedabad, India to French and American parents, Daniel Kohn was raised in France. He has lived in Brooklyn, New York since 1996. His artistic work can be seen as an ongoing attempt to integrate this diverse background into an evolving point of view. In his early career this led him to… read more »

Ellen K. Levy, a New York-based artist and writer is Past President of the College Art Association (2004-2006) and received her PhD from the University of Plymouth (UK) (2012) on the art and neuroscience of attention. With Patricia Olynyk she co-directs the NY-based LASER (Leonardo Art and Science Evening Rendezvous). Until recently she was Special… read more »

Ben Lillie is a high-energy particle physicist who left the ivory tower for the wilds of New York’s theater district. He has a B.A. in physics from Reed College, a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University, and a Certificate in improv comedy from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. He is the Co-founder and Director… read more »

Farzad Mahootian

Faculty of Liberal Studies, New York University; affiliated scholar, Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University

Farzad Mahootian is on the Faculty of Liberal Studies at New York University and an affiliated scholar with the Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University. His interdisciplinary research focuses on the interactions of myth, metaphor and science—most recently in the context of research laboratory ethnographies. Publications include: “Lab as Dynamic System:… read more »

Roger Malina is an ArtScience Researcher, Space Scientist and Astronomer and Editor. ​He co directs the ArtSciLab at UTD Dallas which works on projects that cannot be accomplished unless artists and scientists work together, and on projects in Experimental Publishing. The latest project is the ARTECA art science technology aggregator with MIT Press and MIT.

Shane Mayak is a biologist and founder of Ligo Project, a non-profit focused on connecting science to art, culture, and community. She studies the immune system, biological microenvironments, and how cells communicate with each other and their surroundings. Her main interest is in learning how immune cells and the biological processes and structures that control… read more »

Jame McCray is an Environmental Social Scientist at the Delaware Sea Grant. She is also a modern dancer, currently working on a component of “Same Stories, Different Countries,” a student project creating dances based on the science behind renewable energy in the U.S. and abroad.

atricia Olynyk’s work explores art, science, and technology-related themes that often examine the dialectics of natural and artificial, and cognition and affect. Appropriating scientific imaging technologies, her installations, photographs, and videos address how interpretation fluctuates between fact and speculation. Working across disciplines to develop “third culture” collaborations, she has programmed art, science and technology curricula,… read more »

Cynthia’s background is in Fine Arts, with a major in Printmaking and a minor in Art History. As a professional artist, her career embraced printmaking, textiles, mixed-media, photography, and interactive sculpture with artwork exhibited at The American Craft and Cooper-Hewitt museums in New York City, and commissions from Citicorp, The Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, CT;… read more »

Nirav S. Patel is a Research Scholar at the Honors College, where he researches and teaches programs focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to human-environment interactions within social-ecological systems. As a member at the Rutgers energy Institute and Rutgers Climate Institute, Patel focuses specifically on coupled natural and human systems. HIs current teaching involves teaching an interdisciplinary… read more »

Nancy Princenthal is a Brooklyn-based writer whose book Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art (Thames and Hudson, 2015) received the 2016 PEN America award for biography. A former Senior Editor of Art in America, she has also contributed to Artforum, the Village Voice, and the New York Times. Princenthal is the author of Hannah Wilke… read more »

Alana Quinn organizes exhibitions and public programs exploring intersections of art, science, and culture at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. She has co-organized the popular monthly D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) salon since its inception in 2011. Quinn curated the NAS’ current art exhibition, Steve Miller: Health of the Planet, on… read more »

Mark is the Director of Guerilla Science, an award-winning international arts, science and culture organization that creates live events in unusual places, and a an assistant professor of Math & Science at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge in 2010 and has… read more »

Harvey Seifter, one of the world’s leading authorities on organizational creativity, is founder and director of The Art of Science Learning (AOSL), a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that uses the arts to spark creativity and innovation in science, technology, engineering and education. As Principal Investigator of AOSL’s two NSF grants, Harvey developed world’s first arts-based… read more »

Tyler Volk is professor of biology and environmental studies at New York University. In his just-released book, Quarks to Culture: How We Came to Be (Columbia University Press, May, 2017) Volk explores a rhythm within what he calls the “grand sequence,” which has progressed as a series of levels of sizes and innovations from elementary… read more »

Elizabeth Waters (Ph.D.) is a democracy and knowledge consultant. Her training in learning and memory neuroscience naturally led her to become an educator. Elizabeth works with students, teachers, and communities to explore the boundaries of our current knowledge and the practices that support this exploration. She conducts her work as part of the organizations Inquiring… read more »