Saturday, July 23, 2016


Being of the doctrine “I’ll see it when I believe it,” it’s generally been hard for me to conceptualize nanoparticles and nanotechnology. I was amazed to learn that scientists, with their state-of-the-art microscopes, don’t see these small pieces of matter, but rather sense them. It takes an amazing amount of confidence in the science – and maybe a small leap of faith – to trust their senses in this way. As Professor Vesna said, regarding UCLA’s “nano” exhibit from 2003, “this new science is about a shift in our perception of reality from a purely visual culture to one based on sensing and connectivity” [1].

This class is built on the theme that art and science interact and influence each other. It is in fields like this where science is the art. Images like the magnetic nanotubes below are nothing more than results of a physics lab experiment, but they look like much more from an artistic point of view.

Magnetic Nanotubes, Ed Simpson, Yasuhiko Hayashi, Takeshi Kasama and Rafal Dunin-Borkowski 

I may have a huge fear of bees, but I think the development of nanobees for medicine is a promising step in nanotechnology [2]. Ray Kurzweil gave a TED talk (below) about the inevitability of the rapid acceleration of such technology, and I am very excited to see what comes in the near future.

I found an artist, Jonty Hurwitz, who is creating nanosculptures to raise awareness for humanitary issues. Below is his elephant sculpture, which calls to attention the killing of over 100,000 elephants in 3 years by ivory poachers [3].

Fragile Giant, Jonty Hurwitz, 2015

Perhaps a more light-hearted application of nanotechnology is the creation of images like the one below. Recreating objects we plainly see with nanoparticles “meld microengineering with aesthetics” (Lilley, NOVA) and can de-mystify the workings of nanoscience and is an important communicative tool between scientists, artists, and the general public [4].

“Spaghetti and meatballs?” 
Courtesy Blythe G. Clark, Sandia National Lab, and Dan Gianola Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH

Other universities, like Cornell, are taking initiative to develop nanoart [5]. I hope this points to a future increase in collaboration between art and science in academia.


[1] Lovgren, Stefan. "Can Art Make Nanotechnology Easier to Understand?" National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 23 Dec. 2003. Web. 24 July 2016.

[2] "Making Stuff: Smaller." NOVA. PBS, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 July 2016.

[3] Hurwitz, Jonty. "Nano Sculpture." Art of Jonty Hurwitz. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2016.

[4] Lilley, Maiken. "The Art of Nanotech." NOVA. PBS, 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 July 2016.

[5] Aloi, Daniel. "2014 Biennial to Explore Nanotech as Artistic Medium." Cornell Chronicle. Cornell University, 5 Dec. 2013. Web. 24 July 2016.

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