art and science

Dr. Zhao Qin

Technological advances have always influenced art. Think synthetic dyes or the invention of photography. Now, artists are diving into the realms of nanotechnology, genetics, and artificial intelligence. And MIT is leading the way. 

One installation at MIT, called Spider’s Canvas, features a three-dimensional spider web that makes sounds. It was one of the works shown during a February 26 symposium at MIT.

Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin has been recognized for her work against sexual harassment in science, but may lose her research position at Vanderbilt University.
Jon Tadiello, MIT Media Lab /

"The take-home message for anyone watching this from afar is: 'Ooh, you take a lot of risk when you report in a sexual harassment investigation.'"  - Meredith Wadman

This week on Living Lab Radio:

"Off The River - Journal Entry" is one of Robert Perkins' multi-media pieces in the "Risk in the Marine Environment" exhibit.
Courtesy of Robert Perkins / Sargent Gallery

Human activities are altering rivers and ocean ecosystems in dramatic ways. Science is one way of knowing this, and of communicating it. But it’s not always the most effective way.

Robert F. Perkins is a multimedia artist who has been solo canoeing in the Arctic for close to thirty years. He’s also canoed the Limpopo River in Africa, and the Connecticut River – right here in our own backyard.

Not surprisingly, he says there's a common theme: more people, more contamination and degradation.

Scientist Leaves Teaching Biology for Tango

Jun 6, 2016
Courtesy Hsueh-tze Lee

Hsueh-tze Lee always thought she would have a career in science, but her passion for dance took her in a different direction. Lee, who studied at MIT and had received a doctorate in physiology from Harvard University, was teaching biology at Wellesley College in the 1990s when she discovered that her favorite pastime was becoming more and more important to her.

Community is a subjective thing. Merriam Webster defines it as people living in the same area or sharing a common trait or interest. That's pretty broad, as it is, but artist Jon Goldman wants us to go one step further and include animals, as well as people, in our sense of community.*

Marie Curie Museum/Susan Marie Frontczak

Ever since she was a girl, Susan Marie Frontczak's love of theater and of science have gone side-by-side.

"I was in my first play when I was 5, and I did math puzzles with my dad," she tells WCAI. "I produced things on his workbench. I produced my first play when I was 17. I was a founding member of a community theater in my 20s when I was working at Hewlett Packard as an engineer. So I've always had both sides of my life."

Credit: Laura Lubelczyk, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in collaboration with Dr. Erica Goetze, University of Hawaii

Marine microbes support the entire ocean food chain, provide the oxygen we breathe, and may even help soften the blow of climate change. They're also gorgeous.

Science is not all cut and dry, scientific method and clear, hard facts. It’s full of creative people and odd phenomena.

Designed by a sculptor and a doctor, Ani-Gram-It teaches biological concepts with an artistic touch.

Artist and designer Alex Wolf believes games can and should be works of art that bring science to life for children.

Dancers in Great Sippewissett Marsh, Falmouth, MA.
Courtesy of Courtney Peix / Contrapose Dance

Dance inspired by turbulence and eddies, set to ocean sounds translated into music? This is one convoluted story you'll want to hear.

Art can be a powerful way to convey scientific messages and inspire environmental stewardship. Technology, on the other hand ...

We often talk about the distancing effect of the technologies that are so omnipresent in our lives today - our removal from the natural world, and the demise of true, personal interaction at the hands of cell phones, social media, and the like. So what happens when you combine art and technology?


Living Lab first aired on June 25th of last year. In our excitement about our fisheries coverage, The Long Haul, we completely missed our own first anniversary.

We're making it up now (better late than never, right?) by sharing a couple of our favorite interviews from our first year on the air. Enjoy, and thanks for a great first year!

Pteropods, Art, and Climate Change

Gary Braasch's exhibit "Climate Change in our World" is currently at the Boston Museum of Science.
Gary Braasch

Climate change is a global phenomenon, and the science can sometimes seem distant or disembodied. But the impacts of a warming planet are increasingly apparent – and personal.

Act 1: Climate Change Hits Home

Nathalie Miebach's woven sculptures interpret oceanographic data.
Courtesy of Nathalie Miebach

Back in June, I spoke with Whitney Bernstein and Michael McMahon about their nascent artist-scientist collaborative, Synergy. The project has now reached fruition; eight artist-scientist teams have produced science-inspired works of art that will be shown at Boston's Museum of Science starting February 16th.

The exhibit spans media from music to abstract video, from sculpture to painting. Each work of art is as unique as the artist-scientist team that came together to create it.