The bridge: experiments in science and art

Chalmers, Rosemary, Shipman, Jill, Buntaine, Julia and Schwarting, Kate (2017) The bridge: experiments in science and art. SciArt.

Abstract

The output is a creative project co-authored with volcanologist, Jill Shipman. Chalmers’ contribution comprises the visual design of the creatures and environments. Research process: The SciArt Center provided a virtual space to record and showcase the process and products of the collaboration. The work was facilitated by bi-weekly Skype calls and documented in weekly blog posts. The approach was based on speculative biology, for example by asking how echolocation would work in fish-based creatures and how can these adaptations be made external to create a more visually interesting creature design while still remaining believable? These were explored through playing with the idea of setting the narrative around planetary exploration and therefore a speculative world and its flora and fauna will need to be visualised through concept art. Chalmers researched other Creature Designers that have created believable worlds, including Terryl Whitlatch, Bobby Rebholz and Brynn Metheney. Research insights: Through testing ways to synthesize volcanic phenomena and creatures it was discovered that there were four approaches for incorporating volcanic features into creature design: volcanic phenomena can be directly applied to a part of the creature’s body, volcanic phenomena patterns can be overlaid on the creature creating unexpected forms on the surface, volcanic phenomena can provide inspiration for heat resistant adaptations from real-world animals and, finally, more imaginative and surreal methods can be used to personify the volcanic phenomena. Further insights gained addressed the cyclical process of collaboration; the art-science interface as a method to stimulate the mind, stir the emotions, and promote action in geoscience stewardship; and the experience of an artistic approach to science communication to create immersive, interactive worlds that engage wider audiences. Dissemination: The project was developed through ‘The Bridge’ four-month virtual residency with SciArt, September - December 2017, and was disseminated via conference paper and online.

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