Current Issue

Apr. 24, 2013

Vol. 113, No. 11


Science as art

A photo exhibition shows the beauty born in Princeton’s labs and field research

By Vivienne Chen ’14
Published in the April 24, 2013, issue

PRINCETON’S ART OF SCIENCE exhibition, a showcase of 44 images representing science as an art form, will be on display at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J, through Sept. 15. The exhibit draws from five years of photographs in the University’s Art of Science competition, with images selected by renowned photographer and professor ­emeritus Emmet Gowin and former Princeton University Art Museum curator Joel Smith *01. The photos spotlight the striking aesthetic and scientific importance of Princeton’s research, from fluid mechanics to biological fieldwork to plasma physics. “It’s special to have your ­research ­highlighted as art,” says Steve Brunton *12, a ­featured photo winner from 2010, “and it’s a ­different way to express yourself than writing peer-reviewed papers.” The competition was sponsored by the David A. Gardner ’69 Fund in the Council of the Humanities and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Vivienne Chen ’14, an English major, is a freelance writer and videographer who contributes frequently to PAW and PAW Online.

Patterning the Embryo

Yoosik Kim *11, Stanislav Shvartsman

For Yoosik Kim *11 and Professor Stas Shvartsman, a chance detour to an art exhibit inspired the presentation of their scientific research. “We were studying the cross sections of the fruit-fly embryo,” says Shvartsman, a professor of chemical and biological engineering who supervised Kim, “but after looking at a large number of these embryos, we found out there was a Kandinsky exhibition at the Guggenheim.” Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky’s iconic paintings of colorful concentric circles, known as Kandinsky circles, captivated the researchers. “Once I saw these paintings,” says Shvartsman, “I knew we needed to arrange our embryos in the same way.” Their photo shows how the embryo is ­subdivided into three main tissue types — muscle, skin, and nerve — creating a ­rainbow of cross sections arranged like Kandinsky circles.

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CURRENT ISSUE: Apr. 24, 2013
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