Art in Spectroscopy

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I am very intrigued by the DanceRoom Spectroscopy (art and particle physics demo) video that we saw in class and realized that it is more complex than it seems and incorporates a number of variables all interacting with one another. It involves a number of different art mediums in one video experiment including performance art, music in science, and science as art. Not only are the two people in the video interacting with each other; they are also interacting with the particles in the air around them.

The C++ DanceRoom Spectroscopy code itself is written by Dr. David Glowacki and Phill Tew. Glowacki explains that the two people in the video are “interactively warping the virtual force field felt by an ensemble of 70 particles in a real-time mixed classical-quantum Feynmann-Hibbs simulation”. The music in the video was generated “on-the-fly via analysis of particle-particle collision events”. Now, I have no particle physics or physics background, but this video was still beautiful to watch and made the concept a bit easier to understand with the visual and musical help (which is a perfect way in which art can help bridge the gap between the sciences and arts). Art is clearly a way to explain complex scientific concepts to ordinary non-scientific folk like myself.

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Dr. Glowacki’s project is a perfect merging of science and art that creates a physical and material way for humans to interact directly with science with their own bodies. This led me farther into researching where I found actual dancers incorporating this DanceRoom Spectroscopy technology into complex dance performances. In “Hidden Fields” (2013) dancers used “rigorous methods from computational physics and state-of-the-art computing” and explored movements that “creates ripples and waves in an invisible sea of energy”. The dancers are using their own body movements to alter the invisible force fields that surround them creating a peaceful dance piece comprised of beautiful graphic imagery and complex sounds. This “next-generation” dance piece invites the audience to “contemplate emergence, dissipation, and the interconnected dynamism of the natural world- from the microscopic to the cosmic”.

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“Hidden Fields” incorporates collaborators from all different fields including that of research science, computer science, visual arts, composition, sonic technology, and dance giving the scientific world yet another example of the ways science can impact other fields and create something stunning and mesmerizing in the process. Preventing the collaboration across fields of study risks the possibility of never discovering pieces like that of “Hidden Fields” and leaving the world a less colorful and beautiful place to be.

-Alice Musher


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