Center for Consciousness and Transformation Sponsors Art Discussions

Posted: October 16, 2009 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: October 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

The Center for Consciousness and Transformation (CCT) is sponsoring the Science of Consciousness Series. Consciousness is one of the great mysteries of human experience. What is the nature of the mind, awareness, attention and creative impulse? In recent decades, the tools and methods of scientific inquiry have turned to some of these great riddles.

The autumn 2009 lecture and workshop series from CCT will examine a few of these intriguing aspects of the science of consciousness, and the process of self-awareness is presented from both a scientific and practical angle.

The first of these programs, a presentation by sculptor Rebecca Kamen and composer Susan Alexjander, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1007 of the School of Art Building.

In the program, titled “Divining Nature: Bridging Art, Science and Transformation,” Kamen and Alexjander will discuss their collaboration on the genesis of Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden, a large-scale sculpture installation currently on view at the Greater Reston Art Center.

Buddhist mandalas, representing a cosmological view of the universe, inspired the layout and the concept for this elemental garden. Because gardens have always served both functionally and metaphorically as an intersection of art and science with nature, they are sites of transformation, Kamen explains.

In these awe-inspiring places, matter changes from one state to another. Similar to the metamorphosis of an atom that becomes a new element when the number and arrangement of its parts changes, Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden transforms chemistry’s Periodic Table of letters and numbers into a garden of sculptural elements based on geometry and atomic number.

To learn more about the installation, see a short video and article in C&EN News.

Kamen’s work explores the nexus of art and science, informed by wide-ranging research into cosmology, spirituality and philosophy. She has exhibited and lectured about her work both nationally and internationally in China, Hong Kong and Egypt. Her work is represented in many private and public collections such as KPMG Peat Marwick Corporation, Gannett Corporation, IBM, Capital One and the Institute for Defense Analysis. She has been a professor of art at Northern Virginia Community College since 1978.

Alexjander’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States, including collaborations with dance companies and film. She is best known for her music that derives its data and inspiration from nature’s own vibrational frequencies such as pulsar spins, elements, water and time cycles. Her album “Sequencia” is internationally known for its pioneering sound work using the molecular frequencies of DNA. It has been featured in major media and has been on exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Museum of Santa Barbara and Universal Concepts Gallery in New York and Athens, Greece. Her film soundtracks, in collaboration with filmmaker Diana Hobson, have been featured in galleries in England, Norway and California.

Alexjander is currently at work on a commissioned piece for chamber orchestra called “Ocean.” Her company, Science & The Arts, furthers scientific research into the ‘musical’ universe of frequency. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit to learn more.

Another event sponsored by CCT, a science and art symposium called SOFAlab will take place on Thursday, Nov. 5, at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1530 P Street, NW, Washington, D.C. The symposium begins with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by a keynote address and panel discussion beginning at 7 p.m. SOFAlab is free and open to the public.

Organized by Helen Frederick, School of Art, and Paul So, Physics and Astronomy, SOFAlab addresses how and where art and science—two seemingly disparate disciplines of intellectual inquiry—overlap. And, at that confluence, what can practitioners of both disciplines learn to expand their unique fields of knowledge and to affect consciousness?

SOFAlab’s keynote speaker is Tod Machover, professor of music and media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and a Juilliard-trained musician. With each of Machover’s innovations, such as his Hyperinstruments, Hyperscore, Brain Opera, Toy Symphony and MMH (Music, Mind and Health), he has intentionally explored the space where science and art collide, and in doing so challenged traditional perceptions of both fields.

SOFAlab’s panelists will include Maria Barbosa, professor of biology and a Washington, D.C.-based installation artist; Ernesto Barreto, associate professor in the Mason’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study; and Brandon Morse, professor of digital media at the University of Maryland and a Washington, D.C.-based video installation artist specializing in 3-D environments and animation software.

In addition to CCT, support was provided by Hamiltonian Artists, Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts and Mason’s School of Art.

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