Interview with artist Karen Aqua

Karen Aqua

One of the featured artists of INtransit V.6: “scientific american” is animation video artist Karen Aqua. Here is an interview exploring the process of creating “Twist of Fate”, a video piece exploring how modern illness intrudes and impacts one’s inner and outer experience. Her website is: http://aquak.home.att.net/index.html

1)   What was the process of making this film like for you?

Sometimes the film was really hard to work on emotionally. But most of the time it was very positive: empowering and cathartic, a sense of taking control. When I first drew an image visualizing a cancer cell, it was very important for me. Here was something totally invisible that was dangerous and threatening, that I was able to make visible.  In a way, I felt that I could see and confront the enemy.  Visualization has always been a powerful tool for me.

The process of animation is also very labor-intensive & repetitive and there are lots of mundane tasks (like coloring and cutting).  So the work was also very distracting and absorbing, as I spent many weeks/months/years simply creating the drawings (a very pleasant endeavor).

2)   Do you see the arts and sciences related? How?

Many artists incorporate the sciences into their work (including my studio mate, Jeanee Redmond, who works in clay). The sciences offer a rich source of inspiration, and the intersection between the 2 disciplines is open to endless possibilities of creative interpretations.

3)   Would you relate any part of your art-making process to therapy, in the sense that it allowed you to reframe or transform your way of looking at or experiencing this illness? Or in another therapeutic way?

For a while after diagnosis and starting treatment, I felt so not myself, identifying myself as a cancer patient who happened to be an artist.  A huge shift happened when I started to get back into my studio and get to work again.  I was able to identify myself as an artist who happened to be dealing with cancer. This was when I felt the essence of myself returning, and it really helped.

In the creation of this film and related drawings over eight years, I turned to my art-making is a necessary, nurturing, cathartic, and life-affirming endeavor, as well as a means for sharing this experience with others.

Still image from "Twist of Fate"

4)   What are some of your future artistic and/or personal goals?

I have recently started a new animation project inspired by New Mexico, using pastel drawings to explore elements of architecture and the natural world.  It connects to the natural sciences through an interest in and close observation of insects and plants.  With this new project, I am continuing to experiment with combining drawings with animated textures and found materials.

Research trip to Bogotá

AstroDimers sam smiley and Gina Kamentsky just got back from Bogotá Colombia, where we were doing research and video interviews about science and technology in Colombia. We learned even more than we thought possible.

We went to the Museo de Caldas and learned that one of the first scientific journals on the continent  was published in the early 1800’s in Bogotá (which was then called Nueva Granada) The periodical was called “El Semanario de la Nueva Granada”.

We visited a hospital and sanatorium museum in Bogotá, we toured the Observatorio Astronomico (built in 1804) in Bogota, we went to an ancient Muisca Observatory (note: it was called by the Spanish, El Infiernito, whether because of the heat, or the large phallus shaped rocks, I dont’ know)  We interviewed biologist Brigitte Luis Guillermo Baptist at the Humbolt Institute for Biodiversity, and we saw the beautiful metallurgical craftings of the Muisca at the Museo del Oro. Oh and a lot more happened.

But to be honest, pictures say it better than words so here are a few images from our trip.

View from the room of Casa Platypus, Bogota

View of Bogota from Montserrate

sam in the streets of Bogotá

Hospital Sanatorio San Carlos

Research Room in the Hospital Sanatorio

The Museo de Caldas in Bogotá Colombia

Diego and Martha at the Museo de Caldas

Observatorio Astronomico in Bogota

Brigitte Luis Guillermo Baptist from the Humbolt Institute

out the bus window on the way to Villa Leiva

Gina in the center of Villa Leiva

On the way to the Muisca Observatory

Muisca Observatory in Villa Leiva

Yes that is what you think it is. For fertility rituals of the Muisca.

Our hostel in Villa Leiva

Villa Leiva sunset. super amazing.

Lulo fruit (not to be confused with President Lula of Brazil)

Street art in Bogota

More really intense street art from Bogota

Graphics for Lorenzo's show in Macarena, Bogota

Gina in La Candelaria, Bogota

Interview with artist Ben Aron

Ben Aron in recent performance "Where does it go?"

One of the featured artists of INtransit V.6: “scientific american” is video artist Ben Aron. Here is an interview exploring the ideas behind his work.

1.   What inspired you to create the piece “The Science of Business”?

My fascination with the capitalist basis of science and medicine in American culture inspired me to create this piece. It interesting, and backwards for me to see these systems fueled by the action/reaction of capital as opposed to the search for quality or advancement.

2. How does this piece relate to your past and future artistic ideas?

This piece is related to my larger body of work in that it uses a simple juxtaposition to hopefully bring up a larger relationship.

3. What connections have you made between the concept of “scientific American” and your piece “The Science of Business”?

I thought about what it means to make the distinction of “American” science, and how that is different from the larger practice of science itself. Also, how we treat science as a business, and business as a science.

4. Who would you consider to be a “scientific American”? Why?

Steve Jobs, because he is one of the most public embodiments of the American connection of science and industry.