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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Cristian Orfescu > Italy Joined the NanoArt Movement

Cris Orfescu

One of the richest countries in the world with respect to art heritage, Italy, held this month an international exhibition dedicated to NanoArt as an artistic expression of Nanotechnology.

October 23rd, 2007

Italy Joined the NanoArt Movement

One of the richest countries in the world with respect to art heritage, Italy, held this month an international exhibition dedicated to NanoArt as an artistic expression of Nanotechnology.

Alessandro Scali & Robin Goode, Keyhole, 2007, 460x240µm, Atomic Force Microscope

Besides the aesthetics and the message carried, NanoArt is an excellent educational tool for the general public. More art professionals become aware of the fact that a new art discipline was born, and are getting in the game. In the last few years NanoArt works were exhibited in mixed art form shows all over the world. "Nan°art: seeing the invisible" is an exclusive NanoArt show, following exhibitions like "NANO" in 2003 at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and "Nanomandala" in 2005 in New York and Rome by American artists and NanoArt pioneers Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski, and "The 1st International Festival of NanoArt", held in Finland this year in May, presenting about 40 works by 15 nanoartists from 4 countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, United States) and covered previously in this column. And not to be forgotten the Web exhibitions of NanoArt pioneers Donald Eigler, Anastasios John Hart, Jack Mason, Tim Fonseca, Robert A. Freitas Jr., Joe Lertola, to name only a few who started producing works in the early 1990s and some of them even earlier.

Alessandro Scali & Robin Goode, Probation, 2007, 160x533µm, Field Emission SEM

Curated by Stefano Raimondi as part of the BergamoScienza festival at Palazzo Frizzoni in Bergamo, Italy, "Nan°art: seeing the invisible" was focused on the artistic use of nanotech tools and featured six works by nanoartists Alessandro Scali from Italy and Robin Goode from South Africa. Their collaboration with physicist Fabrizio Pirri, from the Turin Polytechnic University atomic force microscopy lab, produced works including Actual Size, a micro map of Africa.

Alessandro Scali & Robin Goode, Actual size, 2007, 100 µm, Atomic Force Microscope

The artwork of Grit Ruhland, artist from Germany also featured in this exposition, was created in collaboration with Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Werkstoffwissenschaften.

Grit Ruhland, Slipper for slipper animalcules, 2007, 150x60x60µm, Scanning Electron Microscope

The exhibition international scientific committee included professors and experts in various areas (science, art, philosophy and aesthetics): Stefano Raimondi, Piero Bianucci, Mauro Carbone, Frances Geesin, Maddalena Mazzocut-Mis, Antonello Negri, Jennifer Palumbo, Fabrizio Pirri, Ottilia Saxl, Kai Simons, Renzo Tomellini and Ugo Volli.

Alessandro Scali & Robin Goode, Probation, crown detail, 2007, 20 µm, Field Emission SEM

"BergamoScienza is one of Europe's most important educational scientific events and it will take place every year in the city of Bergamo (Italy). BergamoScienza aims to create a new scientific divulgation culture able to "educate" the younger generation and to support the development of a culture based on knowledge."
Other group responsible for the event, The Association for Contemporary Art "Verbo Essere" was formed with the aim of organizing exhibitions, festivals and other cultural events to expose the general public to the very latest in the field of artistic research linked to the new technologies and technological experiments.
After the first few days of exhibition, Stefano Raimondi noticed: "The Nan°art exhibition has captured the attention of 1.000 visitors in just 4 days. A lot of articles are going out on newspapers, Italian and international (like Nature). All visitors really loved the exhibition, and for the first time in my curatorial career I receive questions on HOW the artworks are created and not WHAT they represent. It is really amazing."

Alessandro Scali & Robin Goode, Beyond the pillars of Hercules, 2006, 135x460µm, FESEM

In the essay "Nanoart - Never trust artists", published in the exhibition catalog, Alessandro Scali and Robin Goode say: "To think of art and science as two distinct and almost opposite worlds without any relationship to each other is a mistake. We can in reality, consider art and science as two individuals of the same species but of a different genre, mutually attracted to one another and jointly committed to generating knowledge. If we observed the moda operandi of an artist and a scientist, other characteristics they have in common would emerge: both operate within specific contexts, but in the act of research the first tends to transcend the standards of aesthetics and the other the scientific paradigms. Both - contrary to what is generally believed - unite method with creativity. The artist repeatedly and systematically performs the gesture of painting, and the scientist measures physical dimensions, until the moment of opening up, of revelation, of discovery is reached.
Moreover, as the artist operates on a strong basis of information, so the scientist uses a vital component, which is intuition, in other words: creativity and artistry. In the final analysis, both art and science propose to make what is complex simple, or what is unattainable comprehensible."

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