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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Cristian Orfescu > Nanoturkiye Interview: NanoArt, Nanotechnology, 'NanoArt21' Project

Cris Orfescu

Recently I was interviewed by Ahmet Yükseltürk of Nanoturkiye blog ( ). Since the interview will be published only in the Turkish language and brings some more information related to NanoArt, Nanotechnology, and my project 'NanoArt21', I thought that would be useful if will be also published in English.

October 21st, 2009

Nanoturkiye Interview: NanoArt, Nanotechnology, 'NanoArt21' Project

A.Y. - Can you please introduce yourself?
C.O. - I was born in Bucharest, Romania, and live and work in Los Angeles since 1991. I am a materials scientist and an artist. In the daytime I research and develop nanomaterials and processes related to them, and at night I create artworks representing the micro and nano universes.

Cris Orfescu, 'Small World Episodes 1', nanosculpture

A.Y. - When did you learn about nanotechnology? How did it affect your life so far?
C.O. - This was during my university years, about 30 years ago. At that time, I studied for a couple of years the unicellular algae known as diatoms. These are the only representatives of Silicon-based form of life on Earth. All other living creatures are Carbon-based. I actually dedicated an entire chapter of my master's degree thesis to my findings in the regards to diatoms and the idea of growing these algae in farms and using them as solar energy concentrators. In 1984, I started working in microtechnology, joining the national research center for semiconductors. I was always interested in nanotechnology as a cutting edge technology capable of changing our lives. In the present, I develop nanomaterials with applications in Lithium polymer batteries and ultracapacitors.

SEM Images of Diatoms, courtesy of Princeton University

A.Y. - How did you start the NanoArt project? How did you end up with the idea?
C.O. - Actually, I was an artist before becoming a scientist. I experimented for over 40 years with different media and art forms including digital art, murals, acrylic and oil painting, mixed media, faux painting, trompe l'oeil, collage, graphics, animation, web design, video, multimedia.
Combining my scientific background with my artistic background I came up with my artistic-scientific process. I did not invent NanoArt, but I contribute intensively to the development of the NanoArt movement by raising awareness of this new art discipline. In my opinion, NanoArt was born once the electron microscope became commercial, which is the late 1930's. Conscious or non-conscious, NanoArt works were created since the early times of electron microscopy.

Cris Orfescu, 'Surfing Boards', nanosculpture

A.Y. - Did you hesitate when you combined science and art? We all think that scientists are not interested in art?
C.O. - I think this is a wrong idea, scientists are interested in art. Let's not forget that both, science and art have a big common ground, both are creative processes. Also, the micro and nano worlds are very interesting and aesthetically sound. There are a lot of scientists who like to manipulate the scientific imagery they capture, and create really good artworks. You will see more and more of this in the future.

Jan Schmoranzer, 'Nuclear Face', nanolandscape

A.Y. - What are your future plans about this project?
C.O. - This is not just a project. This is a multi-task complex project that I am working on. So far, I managed to organize 3 editions of the NanoArt International Online Competition, with the 4th one in progress (if any of your readers are interested to participate - Free Entries - they are welcome to do it on ), and 2 editions of the International festival of NanoArt, first one in Finland, and the second one in Germany ( ).
I am also trying to raise funds for a NanoArt Foundation where artists and scientists from all over the world will be offered residencies to collaborate and create NanoArt works and projects in studio-labs, and then have their works exhibited in worldwide galleries and museums.

The International Festival of NanoArt - Stuttgart, Germany

A.Y. - Can you tell me an interesting memory from this project?
C.O. - For the first 2 editions of the online competition, the intention was to have the general public involved more in the process, and the final selection of the top 10 artists was based on public voting. Unfortunately, I generated a ferocious voting battle between artists' friends. Starting with the 3rd edition, I decided for professional jurors. The competition is well publicized, the general public is invited to view the online exhibition of all artworks ( ), and the top 10 artists are featured in a multimedia work ( ).

Cris Orfescu, 'Carnivorous NanoPlant', nanosculpture

A.Y. - Can you use nano products easily, without concerns about health, environment?
C.O. - No, there are legitimate health and environmental concerns about nano products, and I hope most of the nanotech companies are willing to develop their products responsibly. There are several organizations that are trying to make sure this is going to happen.

A.Y. - What do you think the bad sides of nanotechnology will be?
C.O. - We have to keep an eye and extremely tide control on the nano weapons development. A world full of this kind of arsenal is a much uglier picture than the actual nuclear world.

A.Y. - What do you think nanotechnology will not solve in our lives?
C.O. - The greediness of people; there will be some (probably they are already) who will want to develop nano weapons to gain power. The general public should be aware of these developments and take action. That is why artists and scientists should intensify their efforts to raise the awareness of the public at large, and here comes NanoArt in the picture.

Cris Orfescu, 'Brain Landscape', nanosculpture

A.Y. - What do you want to say extra for the blog readers?
C.O. - I would strongly suggest your readers to stay in touch with the nanotechnology since this is going to be the top technology for the next few decades, in my opinion. Recently, I launched a new blog, Nanotechnology and Art ( ), where I am planning to start a history of NanoArt, and explore in depth the art-science-technology interactions. Artists, scientists, and anyone interested to contribute to the topic are invited to submit articles. Also, I posted on this blog a 'Call to Artists and Scientists' for the 2009 NanoArt International Online Competition, and I would like to make on open invitation to all artists and scientists to contribute to the NanoArt movement.
Thank you!

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