Monday, June 6, 2016

Event Blog #3

*Note: Unfortunately, my phone broke after visiting this museum, and my photos of visiting were lost. I understand that I may lose points for this, but I still would like to talk about my experience anyway, as it was very cool. All pictures presented are from the Center's website*

For my final event, I visited the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center, located near the Santa Cruz wharf. It is a free museum with the aim of educating the public on marine conversation in the Monterey Bay Area. The center makes use of a number of artistic sculpture pieces, film, and multimedia installations in order to do this.

First, I went into a small theater-like room and watched a film on sea otter conversation in the bay. Though we didn't really talk about it in this class, the medium of film has a long history of being intertwined with scientific education. I grew up watching David Attenborough documentaries, and the semi-recent documentary Planet Earth makes use of amazing camera work and editing in order to educate the public on the beauty and wonder of the natural world. At the center, film is used as a means to bring awareness to the plight of the sea otter. In this way science and art work together as a form of environmental activism (similar to the bicycle/green energy exhibit at the MAH, which I attended last month).


My favorite part of the center was the large, life-sized kelp forest installation, where sculpted kelp, sea lions, and other sea creatures make the visitor feel as though they are walking in a kelp forest. Sculpted star fish, anemones, and other bottom-dwelling creatures at the rocky bases of the kelp are accompanied by buttons that, when pressed, prompt an audio recording that gives information regarding that particular species. By making the visitor feel as though they are in the kelp forest, surrounded by its amazing biodiversity, the installation fosters a connection between the audience and the otherwise often inaccessible world under the ocean. As someone who lives in the Monterey Bay area, it moved me to feel closer to the biodiversity in my own metaphorical "backyard." This then ties back into conversation, causing the public to feel invested and attached to the threatened natural ecosystem of the Monterey Bay. It was a very, very cool way to use art as a means to foster environmental activism.

Overall, I was glad I visited this center. I'd always seen it walking around near the beach, but had never ventured inside. Overall, it was another reminder of the way that science and the arts can work in a harmonious synchrony to bring about positive social change.

Event Blog #2

On Friday May 6, I attended Santa Cruz's monthly First Friday art walk. Among the many activities available at a variety of museums, galleries, and shops, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art History offers free admission and an exhibition of some kind each month on first Friday. This month's theme dealt with bicycling, and incorporated information regarding physics and environmental science.

Myself, with one of the enthusiastic employees at the MAH
One of the space-like landscapes projected onto the
wall of the room, with my friend in profile.

There was an exhibit where one could ride a stationary bicycle, powering a blender that made a smoothie with the ingredients of one's choice. It was certainly interesting as a display of the possible energy that we might be able to harness from bicycling, a form of "green" transportation that gives off no emissions, but what really struck me was that the display was also presented as an act of performance art. The people volunteering to ride the stationary bike were not without an audience, as groups of people happily huddled around and observed. The presentation of such technological displays as a form of performance art has the capacity, I think, to bring together the arts and sciences in a way that may be beneficial in unexpected ways (in this case, as a way to bring awareness to more environmentally friendly modes of harnessing energy).

In addition to the bicycle exhibition, my friends and I made sure to check out the other areas of a museum. An interesting collaboration featured the projecting of a collection of images, many of them space-related or inspired, onto the walls of a dark room, as well as onto an installation of styrofoam and paper in the middle of the room. The nature of the exhibition allowed visitors to view their profiles in these space landscapes, effectively becoming part of the art (and, in a way, traveling to space themselves). Space seems to be a fruitful well of inspiration for abstract artists, due to its array of surreal, unearthly phenomena.

Finally, my friends and I checked out the gallery on the history of Santa Cruz which, though not very much related to science (with the exception of a bit on hallucinogenic drug use in the town), was still very cool.

A neat costume originally worn by a street performer in Santa Cruz.