Art and Science

I told Deb that “we were in for a weird day.”

She had agreed to join me at a performance art event followed by a “sensorial experience.”

Artist Oliver Herring was invited to the college campus where I work to put on his performance art event called “Areas for Action.” He spent five days on campus, creating a different art event each day. He invites the public to participate in these events by being models and helping to create scenes, which he then photographs and films.

I chose to participate in the final event, which was a Foil Ball. One volunteer with a lot of stamina sat in a chair for hours as people came in and added foil creations to her and around her.

foil1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived, a group of teenagers who had wandered in were hard at work creating the state of Idaho out of foil because that was where they were visiting from. A young girl was sitting on the ground in a foil boat that her mother was creating around her. The mother and her other child, an infant, hopped in at some point and a scene was built around them too.

Deb and I got to work, adding pieces to the main volunteer sitting in the chair. We became models ourselves when my colleague walked over with a roll of foil in hand and started creating a scene around us. He gave me what looked like a shepherd’s hook, so I declared myself a shepherdess. Deb became a soldier.

foil2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fun and creative few hours. As we left, they were setting up for a closing reception soiree. Regretfully, we had to head across the river for an appointment at Le Laboratoire Cambridge. We were trying the Lab’s “sensorial experience.”

lelab1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon arrival, a docent led us through the current exhibit, which consisted mainly of videos highlighting a few bodies of work by a group of British contemporary artists known as Random International. I was most impressed by its Rain Room, which is an installation of pouring rain that one can walk through without getting wet, due to sensors and other scientific stuff.

lelab2

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were then directed to a room where we would have our sensorial experience. The experience is the brainchild of Harvard professor David Edward, who enjoys creating culinary experiments. First, we inhaled some scents through a glass tube. The scents started out as liquids that were then put through a special diffuser that changed them to inhalable clouds. (!)

I realized that I do not have a great sense of smell during the next experience, the oPhone. An iPad was connected to a little machine that pushed out different scents, which you chose on the iPad. Everything smelled the same to me. The idea is, that in the future, you could send a photo of a field of flowers to a friend on your phone, and the friend could “smell” the flowers at the same time. Whaaaaa…

Before Deb and I moved on to the next station, we were handed a lethal cocktail, a lime gimlet. We were told that the lime had been centrifuged. I don’t know if that is the reason behind it tasting a lot stronger than a regular gimlet or if we are just lightweights. But we were feeling pretty good pretty quickly.

Next, we inhaled some different powders that were supposed to give us bursts of chocolate, nutrition, or energy. I tried the chocolate, which was pretty good. But if given the choice, I would still welcome the extra calories of a real chocolate bar…

The grand finale, and my favorite part, was a Wikicells tasting. Wikicells are small balls of ice cream in edible packaging. All of the ice cream balls were composed of the same base of coconut milk, but they were encased with different flavors of “packaging,” which had the consistency of hard gel. If I recall correctly, we tried blueberry, chocolate, and caramel. I like this idea of edible packaging for environmental reasons.

Lethal gimlet and container that held the Wikicells

Lethal gimlet and container that held the Wikicells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was an inspiring day that made me feel lucky to live in a place where I’m surrounded by seemingly limitless creativity and innovation.

Up next, keeping with the weirdness theme: I report on my first past-life regression session…

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