Indiana University Research & Creative Activity


Volume XXIX Number 2
Spring 2007

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still life
Spring, 2006 by Bonnie Sklarski
Courtesy of the artist

still life
Genesis, 1999 by Eduardo Kac
Courtesy Karpiot Facchini Gallery


What is human, and what is nature? What is art, and what is science? A recently concluded exhibition at the School of Fine Arts Gallery at Indiana University Bloomington addressed these questions through contemporary works of visual art and scientific imaging. The exhibition, called Human Nature, featured two shows. The first, Natural World, highlighted works that expressed ideas about landscape, the environment, and our place in the natural world. For example, Diana Thompson’s former experience as park naturalist and botanical illustrator shows through in her Untitled installation of falling leaves. Likewise, IUB Professor of Fine Art Bonnie Sklarski has studied landscape and the natural world through her paintings and drawings for more than 30 years. In contrast, an animation video of collaborators Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault “revisualizes” the human figure through computer-generated “unfoldings” of 3-D whole-body scans.

The exhibition’s second show, Future Worlds, explored new information about the living world produced by recent scientific breakthroughs. Many of the featured artists in the second exhibit used scientific engineering and experimentation to create their artworks. In Genesis, for example, bioartist Eduardo Kac developed a synthetic “artist’s gene” in living bacteria by converting a Biblical quote into genetic code. Viewers interact with the work through ultraviolet light, causing mutations in the bacteria, which disorders the Biblical sentence.

A color catalog of the entire exhibition was published this spring. Sponsors for the project include the New Frontiers grant program of IU’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the College Arts and Humanities Initiative at IU, and the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at IUB.