The Geology and Art Special Event Series

The connection between science and art often has been explored, and science is an increasingly popular subject in art. This is particularly true in theatre, as evinced by the success of recent plays such as Copenhagen and Einstein's Dreams. However, science-based artistic productions and art-science collaborations largely have focused on physics and chemistry. With notable exceptions, such as the play Mnemonic, historical sciences such as geology and paleontology have not drawn much attention from artists apart from book illustrators. This is unfortunate because there are many areas where the historical sciences are ideal for exploring the interplay between art and science. For example the Past, the unifying theme of the historical sciences, is a profound, and profoundly interesting, part of the human experience. Yet the past- the experience of time- cannot be understood or fully appreciated in a purely scientific context; exploration of the human meaning of time almost requires the collaboration of artists and scientists.

Geology Museum staff have initiated a program to build bridges between the Museum and the arts and humanities communities in Madison. We aim to raise the visibility of geology and paleontology among artists and the general public and to make the Geology Museum an active participant in the local cultural community. One part of this program is the Geology and Art Special Event Series. The mission of this series is to explore particular aspects of the relationship between geological science and the humanities, and to commission original works of art that reflect this relationship. The first event in this series is about to take place.

Imagining the Past: a Symposium. October 15-17, 2004

The Imagining the Past Symposium is now over. To view the program click here. The event was a success. I am in the process of converting videos of talks and panel discussions into Quicktime movies. This is a time consuming process, so as of now (October 27) only John Hutchinson's talk on Dinosaurs is available. The movie is about an hour long.

Click here for the 16M version of the Hutchinson talk. Choose this version if you are connected vai a 56K modem.
Click here for the 160M version, suitable for high-speed connections.

I apologize for the sound quality. You may need to turn your speakers way up, especially if you want to hear my introduction to the talk.

The Rock Concert

On Saturday, April 9th 2005, the Jazz Passengers will perform The Rock Concert, music and performance commissioned to celebrate the oldest dated terrestrial object, a 4.404 billion year old zircon from Australia. This tiny object was dated by John Valley, a professor in the UW Madison Department of Geology and Geophysics. The Zircon will be on display in the UW Geology Museum before the performance. This will be the first time this object has ever been displayed, and perhaps the only time it will ever be displayed in the northern hemisphere, as it is to be repatriated to Australia after the concert.

The concert is being written by renowned saxophonist and composer Roy Nathanson of the Jazz Passengers. It promises to be a thought provoking and Zappaesque event. Plan now to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Future Events

I am now in the early stages of planning events for the Summer of 2005 through the Spring of 2006. Possibilities include a workshop for artists conducted at our Jurassic dinosaur field site in the foothills of Wyoming's Bighorn Basin, a commissioned theatrical work, and an exhibit on the chemistry and history of iron, using iron-based media such as cyanotypes, iron-based glazes, iron-doped glass, and ochres. San Francisco artist Saundra McPherson visited us in Wyoming last summer, where she collect about 40 lbs of natural iron pigments for use in her paintings.

For more information onthe Geology and Art Special Event Series, contact Joseph Skulan at (608) 265-4274 or Needless to say, donations are welcome.