STEMarts Curriculum Tool

Victoria Vesna

Noise Aquarium utilizes 3D-scans of these micro creatures obtained with unique scientific imaging techniques immersing the audience in a 3D ‘aquarium’ of diverse planktons projected as large as whales. Participants create destructive visual and audio noise by their presence alone as we are all implicated by our inaction.Current studies show the destructive power of underwater noise on large marine life with shocking examples of stranded whales and dolphins. However, almost nothing is known about the possible impact on the marvelous microscopic organisms such as the plankton, and addition of micro plastics further compromises the ecological balance.

 

About the artist

Victoria Vesna, Ph.D., is an Artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci Center at the School of the Arts (North campus) and California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) (South campus). Although she was trained early on as a painter (Faculty of Fine arts, University of Belgrade, 1984), her curious mind took her on an exploratory path that resulted in work that can be defined as experimental creative research residing between disciplines and technologies.

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  • Victoria Vesna Projects (2000-2006)
    Victoria Vesna Projects (2007-2014)
    Octopus Mandala Glow: OMG!
    Noise Aquarium
    Blue Morph (2007-2013)
  • Brain Storming: LA Art Fair
    Our Collective Metamorphosis: Victoria Vesna at TEDxChelsea

skills applied

  • Scientific imaging
  • Interactive art
  • Biotechnology

MESSAGE FROM THE ARTIST


My journey starts with terrible math and science teachers so early on I turned to art schools where I got absolutely zero education in science and technology. But, while growing up in NY in the 70’s, through my father’s obsession with Nikola Tesla, I was absorbing a lot of scientific concepts through osmosis. In retrospect, I think that this was the seed that kept growing inside me and attracting me to explore the deeper aspects of the natural world. Later I learned the fundamentals of working collaboratively in a group and started to play with video, sound, light and performance. But all this was happening in separate worlds until I started working with nanoscientist James Gimzewski who was the first scientist I collaborated with on an artwork where we were equally involved and truly blurred the lines of art, science and technology. In the Paseo installation, Noise Aquarium, I collaborated with biologists, chemists, nano-toxicologists and an animator all working together towards a common goal – to raise consciousness about noise pollution in our oceans. Click on the STEAM Activities below to try out some of my favorite activities such as learning how to hack your webcam into a microscope, creating cyanotypes from iPhone images or exploring plankton as inspiration for art and design.

STEMarts Design Tool
 

The Stemarts Design Tool provides a step-by-step tool to show you how to engage with the Pollinator Concentrator, a site specific interspecies installation at the Rio Fernando Park created by BioSTEAM Lab artist, Ana MacArthur. Explore the artist page to learn about the installation, to understand its purpose and how it works. Research the science and technology behind the art. Experiment with the hands-on STEAM activities to understand the artist process before coming to visit the installation at Rio Fernando Park. Take a field trip to experience the Pollinator Concentrator in person! And finally, when you go back to your classroom, create art inspired by the artist's installation and contribute to the related citizen science projects to be a part of Taos Land Trust's ongoing efforts to restore the watershed and pollinator communities at Rio Fernando Park. This tool will take you through each stage of the process. Just click on Explore to get started!

Explore interspecies site specific installations.

Andy Wagener creates innovative installations that raise awareness to social and environmental challenges. He does this through the use of unique materials and technologies, but also because he chooses topics that he connects with personally. For this activity you will design an installation concept to explore an environmental issue that you are passionate about. For ideas you can visit the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Discuss the issues with your team until you find an environmental challenge that you all agree on.

Research the science and technology behind the work.

Once you have identified the environmental challenge, it is time to research the facts about your topic. Check out the STEAM wiki below to get you started. Explore pros and cons, investigate any controversies, and have discussions with experts in the field until you have a strong grasp of the topic. It is also important to start researching materials and tools that can be used to communicate your ideas. Review the artist’s work on this page to learn about how he created the CLOUDNET installation to raise awareness about the dangers of ghost fishing. What can you learn from his process? The research will continue as you progress with the design but you should have enough information to start exploring how to communicate these ideas through art.

Experiment to see what’s possible.

Now that you have done the research on your topic and tools you can start brainstorming on ideas for an art installation and testing out some materials and techniques. Even if you are not going to build the installation in this phase you still need to play around with materials to see what is possible. Explore all the STEAM wikis below which include some fun technology tools that the artist used. Start sketching out concepts and jotting down notes with ideas for an installation. Don’t try to edit at this point. Start a sketchbook just for this project and write or draw anything that comes to mind. This is where you let your imagination run wild!

Visit the Rio Fernando Park.

The next step is to do a final drawing that communicates your design concept for an installation. This could be done by hand or on a computer. The design should show what it will look like and the materials you would use. It would consider possible sites and how people would interact with it. It can include diagrams, text, photos or anything you like. Most importantly it would show how the installation serves to raise awareness to the environmental issue that you chose. Since an installation is multidimensional you will have to find a unique and creative way to communicate your installation concept.

STEAM wiki

The STEAM-Wiki is a place to get started with your artist research. You will find links to articles, images, video, and tutorials that relate to Victoria's work.

You can search by clicking on the links below or you can click on the topic words in the word cloud for specific areas of interest. For example, BIONANOTECHNOLOGY to learn about the scientific research behind the work or SOUND for experiments around the sound component of the installation. If you are looking for STEM + Art activities type in STEAM Activities

Remember the resource is an open forum sharing links and ideas that others have found – always check your sources and give credit where credit is due. The open source movement generously shares its knowledge and relies on user feedback – so if there’s something really good or doesn’t work let others know.

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Next Generation Science Standards

Core Idea ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

ESS3.A: Natural Resources
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

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