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Monday, July 26, 2021

LASER series brings art and science into new light

Today, Dec. 4, the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) speaker series will return to the UC Davis campus. Every session features four new speakers of diverse trades presenting their work, followed by a Q&A with the audience. LASER devotes itself to exposing the general public to its immediate cultural environment, as well as to discovering the joined forces of science and art.

The LASER series has frequently occurred at fellow California universities, such as UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the University of San Francisco and Stanford University. Anna Davidson, a Ph.D student in UC Davis’ Department of Plant Sciences, only recently brought the twice-a-month series to UC Davis.

Davidson has been a longtime fan of LASER, often traveling to the bay to partake in the art-, science- and technology-infused communities. Davidson said that organizing LASER for UC Davis has been an increasingly enlightening experience.

“I decided that there is plenty of talent in Davis to just start my own LASER, so I did and [the outcome] has been great!” Davidson said. “I try to keep the speakers gender-balanced and have a good representation from the arts and good representation from the sciences.”

For Davidson personally, the fusion of art and science allows for the visual expression of her scientific intrigue. LASER aims to fulfill such objectives and beyond.

“It is very important that society is reminded of our fragile environment, ever-changing climate and dwindling diversity, while at the same time being warmed by the beauty, precision, power and poetics of nature,” Davidson said.

Venkatesan Sundaresan, a UC Davis professor of plant biology, will be present the “Mysteries of the Silent Kingdom” at the upcoming LASER event. Inspired by the book What is Life? by physician Erwin Schrodinger, Sundaresan’s work explores unheard of concepts within botany and will be complemented by illustrations of the connections between plants and music by local web-designer Deepa Thalikar.

Sundaresan said that he hopes his involvement in LASER will develop new ways to unite not just the science and art disciplines, but also the science and art communities.

“I hope that [my talk] will open the eyes of people in other disciplines, [like non-science majors and the like], to the wonderful things that we scientists are learning about the natural world,” Sundaresan said. “[I also hope] that by connecting with people in the arts, it may be possible to create new forms that increase appreciation of both science and art.”

Robin Hill, an artist and a UC Davis professor of studio art, will also speak at the event. Titled “Idea Cultivation in the Studio,” Hill’s talk dissects art like a science, exploring the ways artists develop their research questions and process in the studio.

Through her talk, Hill said she hopes to clear up any myths that might undermine the truly complex process of art, as well as to convey the powerful collaboration between diverse fields, such as the arts and the sciences. Hill plans to share her personal creative process to put her message into perspective.

“My creative process at its core is sight-responsive, not sight-specific; it’s a response to what’s around me,” Hill said. “Working in the academic field, a lot of what’s around me is other people’s research.”

Hill hopes that her involvement with LASER will motivate others to implement their surroundings into their own line of work.

“I hope to provide some kind of template for people to develop an awareness of what’s around them — to not be limited by the set parameters of their field,” Hill said.

To witness the art and science extravaganza in person, stop by 3001 Plant and Environmental Sciences Building from 6:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, visit their Facebook event page.

 

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