LAWRENCE — An exhibition opening April 20 presents collaborative research across visual art, mathematics, physics, music and dance at the University of Kansas. “Collective Entanglements,” organized by the Spencer Museum of Art’s Integrated Arts Research Initiative (IARI), explores work by IARI research fellows Agnieszka Międlar, associate professor of mathematics; Daniel Tapia Takaki, associate professor of physics; and New York-based artist Janet Biggs.
For the past year this group has worked on a project that uses the time-based media of video and performance to explore questions in particle and nuclear physics through novel mathematical techniques.
“We asked ourselves: What is art? Is mathematics an art? Can physics create art? Can our collaboration across disciplines be generative and substantive in our respective fields and still build new scientific knowledge?” Międlar said.
During April 20-22, the group will present its research through a series of events across the KU Lawrence campus, including an exhibition in Slawson Hall. To create the immersive installation, Biggs produced video and sound inspired by the phenomenon of time, including lunar and solar eclipses, scientific devices at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), dancers and Antarctic glaciers. Międlar and Takaki manipulated Biggs’s footage through algebraic computations often used in quantum mechanics.
Joey Orr, Spencer Museum curator for research, said the exhibition represents an experiment that has relevance across the fields that each of the IARI fellows represents.
“Consisting of six videos and a musical score, the installation itself was created collectively by all three participants,” Orr said.
Events throughout the week include panels featuring Biggs, Międlar, Takaki and Orr, as well as current and past IARI graduate fellows. Two lectures by visiting scholars Roger Malina, University of Texas at Dallas, and Tim Davis, Texas A&M University, will further explore ways of using physics and math to deepen understanding of the arts, and vice versa.
All events are free and open to the public. A full schedule is available online.
Events are co-presented by The Commons, the Department of Mathematics, the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Spencer Museum of Art. The Integrated Arts Research Initiative is funded by support from the Mellon Foundation and Margaret H. Silva.
Image: SketchUp rendering of Collective Entanglements, six-channel, high definition video installation with sound and an interactive whiteboard, 2022.