Saturday, May 21, 2016

Unit 8: Nanotechnology + Art

Nanotechnology goes beyond everything we have ever known, it is an area where old scientific methodologies no longer work and the it is the beginning of a paradigm shift. As Dr. Gimzewski mentions, it has the potential to change the world based on both social and economic values. Because Nanotechnology involves studying materials at the nanoscale or on an atomic level, the popular expression "seeing is believing" does not apply to it, for there is nothing visible about it. 

(Medieval stained glass windows are a perfect example of the use of nanotechnology in the pre-modern period.) 

This week's lectures and readings were filled with various examples of the intersection of nanotechnology and art, of which I found to be immensely fascinating. Art allows us to use our senses, such as sound and touch, to better understand and in a way "see" the nanoscale. Art is vastly expanding our attainability to the nanoscale through the use of our alternative senses, separate from our sight. Two artworks, Nanoessence and Transjuicer, are flawless examples of this intersection of nanotechnology, art, and our senses. 

Nanoessence, created by Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy, is an interactive audio-visual installation. The viewer interacts with the presentation through his or her own breath. This project aims to engage the viewer in a sensory qualitative experience of quantitative data. What makes the Nanoessence so incredible is that it analyzes a single skin cell with and Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) in order to examine the juxtaposition between life and death at a nano level. Nanotechnology, and this project, is challenging the ideas we have about what makes something living, for at the nano level, the space of the body has no defining boundaries. 

(Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy's Nanoessence.)
Transjuicer, created by Boo Chapple, is an audio speaker made out of bone. Chapple worked with the piezoelectric nature of the bone in order to produce sound; generating sound by causing the bone to vibrate in a specific way. The motivation behind this project has to do with Chapple's desire to examine occurrences that go beyond our human ability to sense. Transjuicer amplifies the nanoscale elements of the bone so that they can be beautifully and successfully experienced at the human scale.  

(Boo Chapple's Transjuicer.) 
Nanoessence and Transjuicer, and the many other works we discussed this week, allow us to interact with nanoparticles on a sensory level that goes beyond simply "seeing." These works embody the intimate strong relationship between nanotechnology and art, and represent the fascinating work that results from their intersection. 


Anonymous. "Art in the age of nanotechnology." ArtBase. N.p., 11 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

Gimzewski, Jim, and Victoria Vesna. The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science. VictoriaVesna, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

"Nanoessence." Visiblespace, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

"Transjuicer." Science Gallery. Dublin Science Gallery, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

Vesna, Victoria. "Nanotech intro." YouTube. UC online program, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

Vesna, Victoria. "Nanotech Jim pt1." YouTube. UC online program, 21 May 2012. Web. 21 May 2016. <> 

"What is Nanotechnology?" Nano. National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016. <> 

Chapple, Boo. Transjuicer. 2009. JCG, Australia. ArtBase. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

Thomas, Paul, and Kevin Raxworthy. Nanoessence. 2009. JCG, Australia. ArtBase. Web. 21 May 2016. <>

Wikipedia contributors. Detail of a medieval window at Troyes Cathedral. Digital image. 1400. Web. 22 May 2016. <>

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