Where art and science meet

12 May 2015 | General News
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One of TeZ's past works, an immersive spatial visualization of the vibratory motion of water under sonic stimulation

NUS resident-artist TeZ, also known as Maurizio Martinucci, may seem like a modern-day Leonardo Da Vinci to some. He has challenged many students' assumptions while establishing fruitful ties with like-minded individuals across campus during his time with the Art/Science Residency Programme, which NUS conducts in partnership with ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

"For me, art and science is the same thing, in my personal vision. It's more like an approach to knowledge that uses different methods but the goal is the same, said TeZ, who explained that the word "science originates from the Latin word scientia, which means knowledge.

The Italian, whose background is in computer music, uses technology as a means of exploring perceptual effects and the relationship between sound, light and space. He uses custom-developed software and hardware, featuring original techniques of representing information through music and visualisation to investigate and magnify otherwise intangible expressions of vibrational phenomena.

Over the last three and a half months, he has established connections with other departments including the Interactive Digital Media Institute, Department of Communications and New Media, and the Keio-CUTE (Connective Ubiquitous Technology for Embodiments) Center, just to name a few.         

"All local interactions have certainly led to new ways of formulating questions and perspectives of my own work and I think I've contributed to the local scene too with my presence through talks, workshops and small prototypes, TeZ said.

While at NUS, TeZ has been working on three projects that will form the foundation for future works: Bioluminescent Drifter Swarms'submersible robots that scientifically explore and report, through an orchestrated choreography of sound and light, their findings on an aquatic environment; Bioluminescent Plankton'creating movement in bioluminescent plankton that have been stimulated by sound waves; and Experimental Electroculture'exposing plants to light, sound and electricity to stimulate growth, an attempt to show the relationship between vibration and life.

Tembusu Fellow Dr Margaret Tan, who co-directs the Programme, believes that students will benefit from TeZ's interdisciplinary approach to art. She said: "We hope their moments with TeZ will inspire the students to think out of their (disciplinary) boxes and for those working with TeZ on the workshop, to bring what they have discovered and learnt to their own practice.

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TeZ (far right) has enlisted the help of Tembusu students (from left) Juin Bin and Jun Yu in the Experimental Electroculture workshop

First-year Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences students Lee Juin Bin and Lim Jun Yu participated in TeZ's workshop because they wanted to try something new. Both have been working with TeZ on the Experimental Electroculture project, which tests the theory of electricity stimulating plant growth. Another application of the same theory is that of electro-acupuncture, where electricity is passed between acupuncture needles, which some believe improves the therapy's outcome.

"The most important takeaway from this is to be curious about your surroundings. Don't stop questioning what you have learnt and try to apply these lessons to the things around you, said Jun Yu.

The students intend to continue with the Electroculture project even after TeZ returns to Amsterdam in mid-May, where he has resided since 2002.

The first Art/Science Residency Programme took place in 2012 and ArtScience Museum came on board as a partner in 2013. The University has a history of hosting art-science residencies, going as far back as 2008 under the auspices of the International Symposium of Electronic Art.