Sciencestore: A Happening Place


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Sciencestore: A Happening Place
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Project in lieu of thesis
Pérez Gallego, Jorge
College of Fine Arts; University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla
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Carl Sagan once said “science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” Similarly, art is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of work. It is precisely in these definitions that I find my way to both. Science and art are two ways of thinking about the world—both the inner and the outer. At its essence, SCIENCESTORE should ultimately be understood as a consequence of this, and an exploration on how both worlds reach out to broader audiences. SCIENCESTORE is never intended exclusively as an art show. It is not intended as a science show either. It is definitely not intended as a regular store. While it has ingredients of them all, it is first, and foremost, a happening place: a happening place that celebrates thinking. SCIENCESTORE is a performative interactive installation intended for a small size gallery such as the FOCUS Gallery at the School of Art + Art History in the University of Florida where it was on display from October 24 to November 9, 2012. The constructed space sets an ideal scenario for me to deepen my understanding, by means of design, of the economics of science, science outreach, paradigm shifts between science and art, and the theory of value. The show goes beyond the gallery space by including, a lecture series, a photo booth, an art education project for elementary school students, and a science poster design contest for undergraduate students.
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Graphic Design terminal project

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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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I am thankful to the members of my committee, Brian Slawson, Craig Smith, and Rafael Guzmn, for their invaluable guidance and encouragement during the development of this work. To Maria Rogal for motivating me to apply to a program that I now call home. To my studiomates for being the best colleagues one could ask for, both professionally and personally, and caring about this work at times as if it was their own. To the teachers, classmates, and staers who have shared an inspiring learning environment with me at the University of Florida School of Art + Art History. To my family, Tino, Trini, Nuria, and Trini, for their unquestionable support when I madeaccording to manya questionable career shift. To Maria for her innite patience, understanding, and love. SCIENCE STORE | ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 3




Carl Sagan once said science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. Similarly, art is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of work. It is precisely in these denitions that I nd my way to both. Science and art are two ways of thinking about the worldboth the inner and the outer. At its essence, SCIENCE STORE should ultimately be understood as a consequence of this. SCIENCE STORE is never intended exclusively as an art show. It is not intended as a science exhibition either. It is denitely not intended as a regular store. While it has ingredients of them all, it is rst, and foremost, a happening place: a happening place that celebrates thinking. SCIENCE STORE is a performative interactive installation intended for a small size gallery such as the FOCUS Gallery at the School of Art + Art History in the University of Florida where it was on display from October 24 to November 9, 2012. The constructed space sets an ideal scenario for me to deepen my understanding, by means of design, of the economics of science, science outreach, paradigm shifts between science and art, and the theory of value. The show goes beyond the gallery space by including, a lecture series, a photo booth, an art education project for elementary school students, and a science poster design contest for undergraduate students. This paper tries to answer many of the questions SCIENCE STORE have arisen whether in my mind or in someone elses. In a rst section HYPOTHESIS I describe the three main theoretical pillars in which the project rests. A description of the creative aspect and design background of the project is carried on in the following section EXPERIMENT Finally, in a nal section CONCLUSION I self-evaluate my work, and state some future plans. SCIENCE STORE a happening place SCIENCE STORE | ABSTRACT 5




SCIENCE STORE | HYPOTHESIS THE ECONOMICS OF SCIENCE Cultural critic Lewis Hyde articulates the essential dierence between work and labor, understanding which takes us a little closer to the grail of vocational fulllment. 1 Work is what we do by the hour. It is an intended activity that is accomplished through the will and, if possible, we do it for money. A scientist paid by the hour, for example, is a technician, not a member of the scientic community. Labor, on the other hand, sets its own pace. We may get paid for it, but it is harder to quantify. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a term for the quality that sets labor apart from work: ow. 2 Flow is a kind of intense focus and crisp sense of clarity where you forget yourself, lose track of time, and feel like you are part of something larger. If you have ever pulled an all-nighter for a science fair project, or even spent twenty consecutive hours composing a love letter, you have experienced ow. In an enduring community of science, scientic knowledge may circulate either as a commodity, for sale at a prot, or a gift. Sociologist Warren Hagstrom points out that manuscripts submitted to scientic journals are often called contributions, and they are, in fact, gifts. 3 It is rare for the journals that print these contributions to pay their authors. On the contrary, contributors are repeatedly called upon to help defray the cost of publication. Gifts cannot be asked for, they are given. 4 In a way, they are depictions of the nature of the existing relationship between the giver and the receiver. Gifts require certain eort from the giver, certain sacrice, something that enhances the value of the given good or service. Scientists who give their ideas to the community may receive recognition and status in return. In such a community status, prestige, or esteem take the place of cash remuneration. For Marcel Mauss, gift giving is both selsh and altruistic, and furthers both of these human aspects at the same time. 5 For him all given goods or services 1 Lewis Hyde (2007) The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (5th Ed.). Vintage 2 Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998) Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life. Basic Books 3 Warren Hagstrom (1965) The Scientic Community Basic Books 4 Frank Chimero (2011) Do Things the Long, Hard, Stupid Way. Do Lectures 5 Marcel Mauss (2000) The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies (Rev Ed.). Norton HYPOTHESIS the origin 7


SCIENCE STORE | HYPOTHESIS are never completely separated from the giver, which compels the recipient to reciprocate. Solidarity is thus achieved through the social bonds created by gift exchange. There is no room for free gifts in this scenario, which is the main reason why Mausss views on the nature of gift giving have not been without their critics. 6 On the other hand, Hyde opts for embracing most of Mausss views and stating that the gift must always move. Within this expanded scenario, there is indeed room for free gifts. Hyde argues that what is essential is that gifts are moving, rather than their direction; reciprocity is then secondary (Hyde 2007). Knowledge sharing is an example of this movement from generation to generation. Give a man a sh and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to sh and you feed him for a lifetime. Within the scientic community any exchange will tend toward gift if it is intended to recognize, establish, and maintain community. In fact, science is only a community to the degree that ideas move as gifts. Departmentalized science in capitalist universities dominated by contractual research for industry and the military, among other examples, turns ideas into commodities and fractures the community by means of speculation, secrecy, and greed. Furthermore, when secondary goals, such as jobs and money, become primary, the amount of irrelevant work increases, and science suers. Science should never cease to be a community in which ideas ow freely and ideas are treated as gifts. And, so far, despite many stories of stolen ideas, most scientists understand they belong to a group in which a circulation of gifts can produce and maintain a coherent community, and ultimately contribute to a greater good from which we all benet. SCIENCE OUTREACH Science can be understood as a place of exchange, as a conversation juice, as a realm of inquiry. A natural consequence of this is the recent escalation of science outreach. Science outreach incorporates a variety of activities aimed at promoting public awareness and understanding of science, and making informal contributions to science education. While there have always been individual scientists interested in science outreach, it has recently become more organized. For example, the National Science Foundation employ two criteria in the merit review of proposals: 6 James Laidlaw (2000) A Free Gift Makes No Friends. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 6, 617 8


the intellectual merit of the proposed activity; and the broader impacts of the proposed activity. The latter is a clear reference to science outreach and includes advancing discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning; broadening participation of under-represented groups; enhancing infrastructure for research and education; broadening dissemination to enhance scientic and technological understanding; and beneting society. 7 Science outreach can take over on a variety of forms. Some of these are conventional, such as lectures, workshops, and exhibits; but there is also room for unconventional examples. One that comes to mind when I try to illustrate how limitless science outreach is: Treetop Barbie. 8 This Barbie sports the clothing and accessories that a canopy researcher wears and uses in the eld, and presents young girls and boys with a model that includes being adventurous, scienceand nature-oriented, and active. Furthermore, the packaging and user manual included become a new way to spread the relevance of scientic research based upon data collected in the canopy of trees to a broader audience. While science outreach has exploded in recent years, in part because STEM science, technology, engineering, and matheducation is in the governments mind the key to innovation, a similar trend is not obvious in the arts. Unfortunately, too many artists seem to have lost touch with the general audience and have retreated to an airless echo chamber. As Camille Paglia puts it, the art world suers from a monolithic political orthodoxyan upper-middle-class liberalism far from the ery antiestablishment leftism of the 1960s. 9 I have a high regard for the scientist and the artist, and throughout my career I have immersed myself in both their academic worlds only to come to a similar conclusion. No matter how challenging it may be, the scientist is usually more willing to talk about their work in terms that everyone can understand than the artist is. In an economic recession, this is something that bothers me as an artist because we are doing a poor job at showing why our way of thinking and proceeding is equally relevant. 7 National Science Foundation (2007) Merit Review Broader Impacts Criterion: Representative Activities. NSF 8 Carol Yoon (September 23, 2003) Making Science Roll, Rock and Swing from the Treetops. The New York Times 9 Camille Paglia (October 5, 2012) How Capitalism Can Save Art. The Wall Street Journal SCIENCE STORE | HYPOTHESIS 9


PARADIGM SHIFT When thinking about possible ways to address art outreach, I cannot help but looking into commonalities between science and art. The Millennium Simulation used more than 10 billion particles to trace the evolution of the matter distribution in a cubic region of the Universe over two billion light-years on a side. It kept busy the principal supercomputer at the Max Planck Societys Supercomputing Centre in Garching, Germany for more than a month in 2004. By applying sophisticated modelling techniques to the 25 Terabytes of stored output, Virgo scientists were able to recreate evolutionary histories both for the 20 million or so galaxies which populate this enormous volume and for the supermassive black holes which occasionally power quasars at their hearts. By comparing such simulated data to large observational surveys, one can clarify the physical processes underlying the buildup of real galaxies and black holes. 10 Movies, images, and prints have been accurately crafted to visually highlight and share the results of the simulation with scientists and non-scientists alike. Arguably, the artistic value of these pieces surpasses their scientic value. While the latter is constrained to the rigorous realm of reason, the former should only be approached without constraints. The questions one may try to answer may be the same but the complementary answers must not; open-ended if answered within an artistic context, determinate if within a scientic context. In this particular case, the more these answers have to say about ourselves, the less they have to say about the large scale structure of the universe. The context or frame in which artifacts are presented to us play a pivotal role in how we try to make sense of them. I cannot help but wonder what the eect of pervading an art gallery with them would be. It would denitely be a great opportunity to simultaneously reach out from a science and art perspective, and to embrace either or both with a diverse audience. In this context, one could think about the by-products of the simulation, and the simulation itself, as readymades, similar to Marcel Duchamps The Fountain Scientic readymades in an art gallery become devices to explore science and art. 10 Volker Springel et al. (2005) Simulations of the formation, evolution and clustering of galaxies and quasars. Nature, 435, 629 SCIENCE STORE | HYPOTHESIS 10


SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT The design process, somewhat like the scientic method, starts with challenging what currently exists, to then advance to a stage of looking for novel ideas and possibilities whose ultimate goal may be facilitating change in the right direction. Designers facilitate meaningful change and have the ability to give form to those ideas. Exhibits such as those in natural history museums need to constantly change to meet their audiences expectations, and people able to facilitate that change are as necessary among ehibits sta as custodians are. EXHIBITS AND DESIGNERS Before hurricane Katrina happened, and the project was eventually rejected, designer and visionary Bruce Mau 1 was working on the idea of a natural history museum for Tulane University in New Orleans. Maus original idea had its root in the many people who are constantly left behind by the university system, as if they were at the bottom and the top of a cli. The renown Canadian designer envisioned a metaphorical ramp which zigzagged up at several levels, providing a gradual ascent from the bottom to the top of the cli. In Maus mind the natural history museum could be used as a way for someone coming in o the street to gradually get more and more involved, up to participating in long-term research projects and gaining accreditation with the university itself. 2 The continuous dialogue existent between science museums and their visitors need to be addressed as a design problem, and designers need to be involved in its growing. Mau once said, design is the art of science to illustrate that, in the end, it is art which allows us to understand, express, and share science, while science works to order the matter of the world, art orders the meaning of the world (Berger 2009). In designers minds the worlds of aesthetics and scientic knowledge need to come together to facilitate favorable change. On the other hand, science museums seem the perfect scenario to look at the productive romance between art and science, while art museums are often limited to display ne arts artifacts, the scientic knowledge highlighted in contemporary science museums need an aesthetic medium to set. In the past, this was not the case, as science museums were limited to simply displaying scientic renderings and specimens. Nevertheless, in todays marketoriented world science museums need to constantly reinvent themselves to 1 2 Warren Berger (2009) Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even the World Ed. Sue Dickinson. New York: The Penguin Press EXPERIMENT the show 11


SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT survive because their content, as well as the scope of their audiences, is constantly changing; science museums become therefore evolving entities, just as science. In order to be successful, science museums need to provide an experience that is not already provided elsewhere, deeply relying consequently on diverse social, cultural, and economic factors. A good example of this is that in a post-modern world in which traveling became widely available to many, the sole display of exotic natural history specimens was no longer attractive to major audiences. When, on top of that, you add the instantly rewarding scientic information available through the internet, which came just a couple of decades later and did not just have an impact on the music industry, there is a problem. These are some of the reasons a shop window-like science museum was unfeasible by the second half of the last century, and museums eventually became the interactive familyfriendly learning centers they are today. Such a transformation would have not been possible without designers that understood the new set of rules. Science museums are the ultimate informal learning center, and families, for instance, make up 40% of all museum audiences. 3 Interestingly, families are not as likely to visit ne arts museums, where visitors come alone or with other adults (Borum 2008). With this in mind, among many other things, designers working at science museums today need to design for families and small groups, and to turn the museum into a facilitator rather than an obstacle to group exchange. Whether in the context of a science museum, or on the pages of a book, design plays today a pivotal role in scientic visualization, a concept that had not yet been formally coined when William Burtin, whom I will be talking about below, became an expert in it, but it is today dened as an extended practice based on preparing information for dierent audiences so they can administer it with eciency and eectiveness for whatever purpose they may be interested in, from feeding their own curiosity to advance research. Nevertheless, its value is not yet broadly accepted by a scientic community which often sees it useful only in informal settings, and blames it for dumbing down the science. According to Professor Edward Tufte, who is noted for his writings on information design, this need not to be the case, and an accurate scientic visualization is possible whether you are talking to specic or broader audiences. In his own words, If your words arent truthful, the nest optically letter-spaced typography wont help. And if your images arent on point, making them dance in color in three dimensions wont help. 4 No one has said visualizing science for broader audiences is an easy task, but 3 Minda Borum (Spring 2008) Why Family Learning in Museums? Exhibitionist 4 Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr (August 20, 2006) Edward Tufte, Offering Beautiful Evidence 12


SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT it may be one scientists, who sometimes tend to live in an isolated scientic bubble, need the help and skills of designers such as Edward Tufte or Bruce Mau to address. By doing it this way it can be ensured the eect of dumbing science down will be minimized, and the outcome, whether science museum exhibits or something else, will equally please designers, scientists, and the public. If one designer has impacted my work more than anyone else that is German designer William Burtin. His science exhibits are an example of the conuence of art and science: not only he had been exposed earlier in his career to the ins and outs of graphic design gaining immediate recognition in Germany rst, and the United States later; and possessed an innate sense for the art of making majestic sculptures; but he had a genuine interest in science, which often translated into the obsessive preliminary research that would lead him to success, and allowed him to scientically support his awe-inspiring sculptures. 5 Burtin believed that designers had the responsibility to attempt to make complex scientic problems easier to understand. His early strong-minded research approach to design is an extended trend nowadays, but was new and pioneering in the fties. Burtins process included evolving and checking his original ideas in lively dialogue with experts, whether medical doctors or researchers, traveling from university to university in the United States and in Europe. In his mind, the role of a designer and a teacher were interchangeable, and he hoped to inspire audiences through his craft. Burtins approach to communicating science with the public culminated an interactive trend hinted at the dawn of the twentieth century at the Deutches Museum in Munich 6 rst, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago 7 a few decades later. Science museums became more than places to display specimens, there was room in them for imagining science with the ultimate goal of educating and inspiring citizens. In Burtins words, this condensation of abstract planning into concrete imagery or projected models will have far-reaching consequences for education and for the further exploration of what we can think out, explore and explain. 8 5 Roger Remington & Robert Fripp (2007) Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin. Ashgate 6 7 8 Will Burtin (c. 1950) Design Responsibility in an Age of Science Writings by Will Burtin at The Will Burtin Archive at RIT, 13


SCIENCE STORE my M.F.A. projectis born as the consequence of my passion for science outreach, the constant evolution of exhibit design, and my search for bridges between the arts and the sciences. Nevertheless, for it to be successful, it requires the collaborative participation of a wider public, making its outputs only achievable with a dialogic exchange. In doing so, and in curator Nina Felshins words, I contest the notion of the art object and its commoditydriven delivery system and led to new meaning for the art work being located in its contextual framework not in an autonomous object. 9 I am the producer, the artist, and the scientist behind the show, but also an activist driven by the strong sense of altruism found in the scientic community. THE STORE SCIENCE STORE is a performative interactive installation intended for a small size gallery such as the FOCUS Gallery at the School of Art + Art History in the University of Florida where it was on display from October 24 to November 9, 2012. The gallery space was designed to resemble a convenience store. Visitors are welcomed to a rather familiar environment, that of a retail store, only to then encounter a set of less common experiences. These somehow embody a performative work along the lines of curator Nicolas Bourriauds take on relational aesthetics, and the works of artist such as Sophie Calle and Rirkit Tiravanija. 10 On Bourriauds words artistic activity strives to achieve modest connections, open up obstructed passages, and connect levels of reality kept apart from one another (Bourriaud 2003). Science and art are the ways of thinking I attempt to connect, and I do so by proposing open but contextualized ways of action between myself, my audience, the space, and what it lls it. Furthermore, the role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever the scale chosen by the artist (Bourriaud 2003). The constructed space sets an ideal scenario for me to deepen my understanding, by means of design, of the three pillars that brought me to the inception of the project in the rst place, and to touch on the theory of value. 11 9 Nina Felshin (1995) But is it Art?: The Spirit of Art Activism Bay Press, Seattle, WA. 10 Nicolas Bourriaud (2003) Relational Aesthetics (3rd Ed.). Rel 11 Value, like performances, deals with the here and the now as long as we are willing to actively participate in its assignment. We do not have to, we can surely skip this privilege and outsource the assignment of value to others, the Marketwhatever it may be, or even God. While this SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 14


On the surface SCIENCE STORE is a retail store like any other in which people are invited to navigate the physical space and interact with the dierent items on display. By means of a properly designed packaging system, including boxes, cans, and bottles, scientic principles, concepts, and methods are turned into pseudo-commodities which can be directly exchanged or be part of an exchange triggered by them. For each scientic idea the simple packaging design serves both as an identication label and as an outreach device to share information about it and prompt conversation. Being in the space, and performing as a store clerk, is arguably one of the most important aspects of the project. I researched the way one is treated in regular stores, and developed my own seller handboock which included, among other things, greeting all my visitors, giving them time to navigate the space on their own, and being there when they were ready to interact. It it can be successfully done with printers, why not with science? Finally, all items were made truly available to people in exchange for a voluntary donation on the last day of the show, which thus became a fundraising eort to benet the Florida Museum of Natural History 12 education program for Alachua County Public Schools. What follows is a brief summary of the dierent and diverse components of SCIENCE STORE The space was completely transformed, the walls were painted and shelves and furniture were added to make it look like a store environment people would want to spend time in (see images on pages 21 to 24 for a visual reference of these). BRANDING A symbol and a typographic logo that could work together or individually were designed to brand the store and the items featured in it. The symbol is inspired by orbits. An orbit is the path of a body in the eld of force surrounding another body. Or, less literal, a range of activity, experience, or knowledge. The concepts of science and store orbit around each other in the symbol as they are mutually responsible for all activity, experience, and knowledge happening in the space. A navy blue, a bright orange, and beige were the key colors chosen to develop the brand. A typographic palette was also chosen for the brand, it includes neo-grotesque seems the only option when considering large scale economies, local economies could benet from a more participatory approach, one in which we are actively present in all of our interactions and exchanges. In this scenario, what ultimately matters, is the existence of the gift, and the explicit meaning given to it by the two parties involvedthere and then, nothing else. 12 SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 15


sans-serif Universan obvious choiceand old serif Apollo. Designed in 1954 and 1962 respectively by Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger, they were both created to meet the demands of photosettinga then-popular cold type printing method t for their unemotional, consistent weights. Apollos sharp terminals and open apertures contrast with Univers at terminals and closed forms, but they share equivalent x-heights, minimal stroke modulation, and ease with longer texts. A minimalistic store window-like display including the symbol and typographic logo of the store welcomes people to the store and invites them into a space that was designed (i.e., furniture, painted walls, etc.) according to the philosophy of the brand. STORE ITEMS Store items include Breathing Air, Newtons Laws of Motion, Human Chromosomes, Mass-Energy Equivalence, Schrdingers Cat, Black Hole, Dark Matter, Maxwells Equations, Aurora, Laws of Thermodynamics, Ideal Gas Law, Avogadros Number, Wave/Particle Duality, Evolution, and Facts, Hypotheses, Laws & Theories. All these scientic concepts are commodied by means of canisters, plastic boxes, and glass jars. These have been properly branded by means of a simple and naive branding systems that focuses in triggering the audiences interest and prompting conversation. SALE RACK Sale rack items feature concepts which do not, or no longer do, belong in a scientic environment, and include Creationism, ther, and Horoscope. All these concepts are intended to prompt conversation and challenge the audiences understanding of the nature of science. SCIENCE BOOTH An organic mural made up of 6" 4" photo booth-like pictures of people holding 11" 17" dry erase boards dresses one of the walls of the store. This underscores the importance of science in our society, and the many dierent approaches to its role. People are asked to complete one of three ll in the blank signs, and hold them in front of the camera. SCIENCE is _____ I _____ SCIENCE SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 16


ART _____ SCIENCE QUOTATION POSTERS A series of 24" 36" typographic quotation posters dress the walls of the store. These provide subtle context to the overall experience of the spaces visitors. The good thing about science is it is true, whether or not you believe in it. Neil deGrasse Tyson Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. Carl Sagan Who knows how many scientic revolutions have been missed because their potential inaugurators disregarded the whimsical, the incidental, the inconvenient inside the laboratory? Ken Robinson The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious which stands at the cradle of true science and true art. Albert Einstein Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Marie Curie The aim of science is not to open the door to innite wisdom, but to set a limit to innite error. Bertold Brecht In an attempt to answer some of the questions a viewer of these prints may have, the posters come with accompanying 8" 6" captions which include information about the author of the quote, the background image, and the typefaces used on their design. CHALKBOARD One of the walls is painted with chalkboard paint in order to mimic the feel of old science lectures. Visitors of the store add their favorite formulas to the collection. PLANET BOXES An educational activity for elementary school students was developed alongside with the exhibit. This activity, which was rened with the advice of University of Florida Art Education Professor Dr. Michelle Tillander, includes a short refreshing lecture on the Solar System given by myself (i.e., planet sizes, planet distances, planet moons, etc.), and a two-session follow-up hands-on activity which requires SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 17


children to use both sides of their brains. Each child designs a cardboard box (i.e., choose it, paint it, combine it, scratch it, perforate it, etc.) to metaphorically pack in it one of the planets in our Solar System, and to display it in the store together with their classmates boxes. The activity was carried out at Brentwood School Elementaty in Gainesville, FL. Such an activity exposes children to the nature of design as an art practice in which a set of constraints imposed by the subject matter shape the nal outcome. Furthermore, by using a science subject students are able to approach scientic ideas in a creative manner. OUTREACH TALKS Several outreach talks on science and design were given in the space. The store includes a multipurpose sitting area which allows not only for lectures to be given but for visitors to simply sit back and relax while reading, listening to Radio Lab, 13 or enjoying a casual conversation with their colleagues, or one of the stores sta members. RECEPTION A special reception with savory light refreshments, and refreshing talks by inspiring speakers was held on Thursday, November 8, at 7pm. The Ultimate Exploration Voyage Astronomy Professor Rafael Guzmn The Biorhythm of Cells Biological Engineering Professor Eric McLamore Why Scientists Need Artists Biology Professor Jamie Gillooly 14 Furthermore, the family friendly reception included science demonstrations, and liquid nitrogen ice-cream, a kids favorite. Finally, the reception was also a fundraising eort, and funds for the elementary school education program at the Florida Museum of Natural History were raised in exchange of store items. These funds are being destined to developed interactive displays that will be used for the museums eld trip programming, summer camps, and exhibit openings, and in its Discovery Room reaching a wide range 13 14 Unfortunately, Biology Professor Jamie Gillooly was not able to attend the reception. SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 18


of students. DESIGN YOUR SCIENCE Design Your Science is a program dedicated to undergraduate students with an interest in the sciences and a talent for the visual arts. Students submitted information graphics aimed at explaining scientic concepts. The winner contributions by junior visual arts student Christopher Jones and senior drawing student Kathryn Stemper were curated by Graphic Design Professor Brian Slawson and Astronomy Professor Rafael Guzmn. One might ask why a store. A store is an establishment for the retail sale of goods and services to the public. They are part of a supply chain, an integrated system involved in moving commodities from supplier to costumer. In the space I become the supplier and my visitor the customer. By turning scientic concepts into commodities by means of the packaging and the context of a store, I set the perfect scenario to reect on the value of science. We usually do not think about science in terms of commodities, and do not realize the value of something we take for granted. Furthermore, conversations prompted by and around the scientic concepts themselves mimic the exchanges that take place in a regular store. The idea of the store as a place where exchanges are made allows me to set the right scenario for those conversations. People understand the way stores work and participate in the exchange accordingly with the only dierence that a printer for instance is substituted by Newtons Second Law of Motion, and instead of highlighting the printers specications, I bring out that Newton was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree, among other things. Speaking of performativity Judith Butler says: The act that one does, the act that one performs, is, in a sense, an act that has been going on before one arrived on the scene. 15 In that sense, the store exists in the space before I, or any other visitor, enter it, it is a preestablish interactive system which does not need further explanation. Nevertheless, visitors are more than ratication of an individuals performance; 16 in particular, they strongly condition and channel mine, and so make its results not only meaningful but real. 15 Butler, Judith (1990) Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre Ed. Sue-Ellen Case. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. 16 Douglas Robinson (2006) Introducing Performative Pragmatics. London and New York: Routledge SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 19


To change the rules of the game today is to change the exhibition format. 17 In a way, SCIENCE STORE does that. It negotiates the pragmatic value of an art space as a frame for scientic content. Scientic content that may become something entirely new outside of its natural habitat. The project ultimately serves a means to explore new ways of communication between two ways of thinking which, despite of the often physical proximity of their advocates, especially in university campuses, have grown apart and distrustful. Breaking the invisible wall that keeps both worlds apart, and understanding the essential bridges between the two is one of the challenges of this generation. The honest and constructive outcome will only be benetial for everyone. 17 Dorothea von Hantelmann (2010) How to Do Things with Art JRP | Ringier SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT 20


Store Entrance Newtons Laws of Motion in a Can Sale Racks Horoscope Boxes SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT


Chalkboard Albert Einsteins Quote Typographic Poster Science Booth Mural SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT


Astronomy Professor Rafael Guzmns Lecture during the Reception Graphic Designer Gaby Hernndezs Lecture Planet Boxes by Second Grade Students from Brentwood Elementary School SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT


Design Your Science Poster Winners Liquid Nitrogen Demonstration during the Reception The Store SCIENCE STORE | EXPERIMENT


SCIENCE STORE | CONCLUSION After November 9th, 2012 I had plenty of time to evaluate the echo of my show and think about the next step, if any. During its run, I documented the show with pictures, voice memos, and notes, so I could gather a clear idea of the experience, once it was no longer. EVALUATION I used dierent mediums to understand the impact SCIENCE STORE had on those participating on its three-week run. Arguably, one of the most successful aspect of the show was the science booth. Visitors were always happy to contribute to the mural, and often understood it the way I intended. They would not simply contribute their picture without previous thought. For their voice to be meaningful, they would rst engage with what previous visitors had contributed before them, and only then add to the whole. Many even came several times after that just to check what others had to say as the mural was growing. Some examples of contributions are I eat Science, Science is my husband, Science is out of this world, Science is, therefore I am, and Science & Art are truths and lies. The online component of the show included a web page 1 and a Facebook page. 2 The ocial page I used as a document of the show itself, a way for people to virtually visit the space without being there, and had thousands of unique visitors. The Facebook page I used to advertise the show and communicate to my fans, it was exposed to thousands of Facebook users and collected over a hundred fans. While useful, other were the mediums that allowed me to understand the real impact of the show on its visitors. I performed in the space every afternoon; teaching and attending classes kept me away from doing it every morning. I developed a simple anonymous evaluation form for those who felt compelled to share their thoughts with me while I was not there or those who did not feel comfortable doing it directly with me while I was there. The latter, even though unlike other artists I have encountered, I was always willing to step out of character and talk about my work in whichever terms would ensure an eective communication. In total, I collected about one evaluation form per day the show was on display from people with careers as diverse as computer science, psychology, art history, 1 2 CONCLUSION the afterthoughts 25


nursing, and English. Their feedback, mostly positive, was also diverse. Some focused on the educational value of the show: My favorite thing was its intention for the viewer to learn. Other addressed its interactive nature: I love how interactive the space is. There were those who were intrigued by the commodication of science: Somehow, turning the breathing air, for example, into a commodity makes me want it so much more. There were also those who rediscovered science: It makes me love science even more. Finally, a small number of them, experienced it as I intended, or so I gleaned from what they had to say: This is the best exhibit here yet. Minor not-so-positive but constructive feedback addressed the fact that not all elds of science were evenly covered. Furthermore, some did not expect the packages to be empty. Nevertheless, the most interesting singular not-so-positive anonymous feedback I found handwritten on one of the posters announcing the show at the entrance of the FOCUS gallery: Where is the art? I would have surely enjoyed answering in person such a question to someone who had such a strong reaction to my show. Not in vain, they were moved to anonymously vandalise a publicly displayed poster in their attempt to challenge my work. I actually engaged in many conversations about this particular topic, and found direct exchanges with visitors of the space, whether in or o character, the best way to gather feedback about their experience. While interacting with visitors from all backgrounds in character I enjoyed plenty of conversations triggered by Newtons laws, Maxwells equations, or Schrdingers cat. The nature of these conversations were determined by each visitors particular interest in the actual scientic concept. Usually, because of the store-like nature of my show, they would naturally evolved from a science outreach-like exchange into a casual discussion of the overall role science plays in society, and its value. Conversations prompted by items displayed in the sale rack, deserve a special mention. Within the context of the project, it was thought-provoking talking about the essential dierences between evolution and creationism, the fallacies behind the horoscope, and sciences past wrong ways such as the medieval aether, or the ancient epicycles. Sometimes, visitors would challenge the art and design aspects of the show. When this would happen I would gently step out of character and engage in a constructive exchange about the roles art and design play in my show, and how they relate to contemporary practices the way I understand them. These were probably the richest exchanges because it allowed me to talk to those visitors drawn into my show because of the science aspect of it about art in a more casual way, touching on what I would label as art outreach. SCIENCE STORE | CONCLUSION 26


SCIENCE STORE | CONCLUSION Nevertheless, I have to admit these exchanges were not always friendly at rst since some of the visitors with a background in science visited the space ready to discredit my work as an artist. I remember one of them asking me: Who do you think you are to tell me anything about science? When this happened, I always tried to have an engaging conversation and reason with them as the responsible for the show before disclosing my scientic backgroundor not, if I feel it was no longer necessary. Interestingly, some of my visitors with a strong background either in studio art or art history also participated in those kinds of exchanges, people I would have had a hard time talking about their art practice in the past because of the academic nature of their discourse. Often our roles would be exchanged in the space, and I would learn from them more than they would learn from me, something that I enjoyed greatly. The science aspect of the show brought to the gallery many science oriented individuals that had never before visited the space, something I expected but was still surprised to discover. Likewise, the educational activity for elementary school students brought to the space many families which is something you do not usually see in an art gallery. I, personally, really enjoyed the educational aspect of the project. Something I will never forget is the students presentations of their boxes to their classmates. At that age science, art, and many other disciplines have not yet necessarily been compartmentalized and childrens creativity slapped me in the face like a breeze of fresh air. I cannot help but wonder what would happen if educational curricula were more integral and inclusive through our way to college. While I was happy with the overall attendance and impact of the show during the three weeks it was on display, something I was not expecting is the little support I got from art oriented individuals on the day of the closing reception. Nevertheless, this might have to do with the fact the closing reception was mostly framed as a science event with guest speakers and science demonstrations. But still, all guest speakers approached scientic concepts in a creative way for an eclectic audience, and who does not like ice-cream? In my mind, it was a missed opportunity to bring together two important communities of our university campus. FUTURE In my mind SCIENCE STORE was a success, with its aws, yes, but a success. Flaws that, in any case, will allow me to push the concept forward in the future 27


if the right opportunity arises. The concept can easily be adapted to a natural history or science museum exhibition, or even a science education or outreach center. I was, for the rst time, able to design a science exhibition from scratch and bring together science and artand scientists and artistsin a welcoming environment. The staged space allowed me to engage in constructive conversations about the roles of science and art, and the bridges between two of the oldest ways of understanding the world. Nevertheless, I realize, there is still work to do to overcome what seems to be a cultural inertia. I currently serve at a University of Florida campus-wide committeeSEA Changewhose mission is to bring together faculty in Engineering, Science and Art for the purpose of sharing information and generating new ideas both for further investigation and teaching. Such eorts are increasingly common across the nation nowadays, which demonstrates a will to change the established inertia. In my opinion, many things need to be done, especially in education settings, where the minds of the great scientists and artists of tomorrow can be wired dierently. Would not it be great a scientic and artistic communities that function as one integral community with its dierences but under the common norm of a gift economy and the pay it forward ? In the end, that is what SCIENCE STORE was, my way to pay it forward to both the sciences and the arts. SCIENCE STORE | CONCLUSION 28


Jorge Prez-Gallego is an astronomer and a designer. He was born in 1980, and raised in the Catalan city of Terrassa, in the province of Barcelona, Spain. He was born into a humble and happy family home. He is son of Constantino and Trinidad, and brother of Nuria. He studied physics at the Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona for two years before transferring to the Universidad de La Laguna. He graduated from the Universidad de La Laguna in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics after two more years. Upon nishing his undergraduate studies, he was granted a prestigious fellowship to continue his studies at the University of Florida. After two years, he graduated with a Master of Science degree in astronomy, and in 2009 he was granted a Doctor of Philosophy degree in astronomy, both under the supervision of Professor Rafael Guzmn. After working as a scientist for a year at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, he decided to go back to the University of Florida to get a terminal degree in ne arts with a focus in graphic design. His passion for science outreach feeds his everlasting search for ways to bring together the sciences and the arts. SCIENCE STORE | BIOGRAPHY 29