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Home / Life! / Art / Glendale, JPL to present exhibit on humans’ relationship to environment

Glendale, JPL to present exhibit on humans’ relationship to environment

by Staff
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A new exhibit presented in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory exploring the relationship between human technology and natural environments is coming this fall to the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, city officials announced last week.

The Glendale Library, Arts & Culture Department and JPL, which is also an operating division of Caltech, have announced the new exhibition “Blended Worlds: Experiments in Interplanetary Imagination” set to run Sept. 21 to Jan. 4. The art exhibition is presented as part of the Getty Center’s regional art event PST ART: Art & Science Collide, which focuses on the intersection of art and science in the past, present and “imaginable future,” according to the city.

“Glendale is a vibrant and evolving arts destination, committed to finding opportunities to present thought-provoking and innovative programs that serve our broad audiences,” the Glendale Principal Arts & Culture Administrator Jennifer Fukutomi-Jones said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with JPL to present an exhibition of this scale that contributes to the greater PST ART initiative in a meaningful way, examining urgent topics and asking big questions about the confluence of art and science.”

“Blended Worlds” delves into the landscape of human relationships with our seemingly steadily expanding environment via a series of art and science collaborations.

“The exhibition questions how empathy and connectedness can both reveal new worlds and inspire innovative ways to nurture them,” city officials said. “’Blended Worlds’ includes artists collaborating with a team of JPL scientists and engineers to present a vision of the future that invites the viewer to consider the impact of greater connectedness with nature and its ability to foster a renewed sense of wonder and curiosity with our planet and the cosmos.”

The exhibit offers a range of multimedia and cross-disciplinary works of art by 11 artists with contributions from renowned contemporary artist Larry Bell and cyborg artist Moon Ribas in addition to David Bowen, Darel Carey, Annette Lee, Ada Limón, Bruce Mau, Viktoria Modesta, Shane Myrbeck, Raffi Joe Wartanian and Saskia Wilson-Brown.

“As a hub of innovation in Southern California, we are thrilled with this collaboration, which merges the worlds of art and science,” JPL Director Laurie Leshin said in a statement. “This is a unique opportunity to share the awe-inspiring beauty of space exploration, contemplate profound questions about our vast cosmos, and highlight the creativity at the heart of JPL. Together, we hope to inspire curiosity within our local community and foster a deeper appreciation for both scientific discovery and artistic expression.”

Exhibition highlights include Bell’s sculpture “Time Machine” and the drum solo performance piece “Seismic Percussion” by Moon Ribas.

The city statement described Bell as “a central figure in the California Light and Space movement of the 1960s … known foremost for his refined surface treatment of glass exploring the interplay between light, reflection and shadow. His experimentation with the deposition of thin films on glass surfaces requires technologies similar to those used by JPL in the development of robotic space missions.”

To experience Bell’s “Time Machine” sculpture, two visitors sit on either side of a reflective and transparent barium glass mirror. Once seated, the sculpture visitors experience a visual merging with each other, “inviting visual play as well as reflections on individuality, mutuality, identity and presence,” official said.

In “Seismic Percussion,” Ribas translates the Earth’s seismic action into a drum-and-percussion score. The intended effect is to create a data-driven performance from the planet’s seismic activity.

“For ‘Blended Worlds,’ Ribas extends her focus to include quake activity on Mars, using data collected by NASA’s Mars InSight lander, which studied the interior of Mars through seismic investigations from 2018 to 2022,” officials said. “‘Seismic Percussion’ transposes this multi-planetary seismic activity into a musical performance that condenses time, enabling audiences to connect with the natural rhythms of both Earth and Mars.”

The exhibition also has David Bowen’s “Tele-present Wind” that features 126 “x/y tilting mechanical devices” connected to slender grass stalks that respond by moving in accordance with Martian wind data collected by NASA rover and lander missions that JPL oversaw.

“In the gallery space, the stalks move in synchrony with the Martian wind, temporarily uniting Earth and Mars through the dynamic interaction of wind and motion,” Glendale officials said.

“Tele-present Wind” by David Bowen interacts with data from Mars rover missions. | Photo courtesy of the city of Glendale

As part of PST ART, several public programs and events will also take place timed with the “Blended Worlds” gallery exhibition. 

“Blended Worlds: An Evening of Art, Theater and Science” hosted by Reggie Watts at the Alex Theatre in Glendale is scheduled for Oct. 5; “Earth Data: The Musical,” a musical by Caltech Theater Arts “exploring the challenges of climate research and science as a human pursuit” is set for Nov. 1-3 at Caltech’s Ramo Auditorium; and PST ART: Art + Science Family Festival, created with the Edinburgh Science Festival, on Nov. 9-11.

PST ART is set to return in September with more than 60 exhibitions from organizations across Southern California exploring the intersections of art and science, past and present, officials said. PST ART is presented by Getty, and more information is at pst.art.

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