ART EXHIBITION: looks at X-Rays, Gamma Rays, and Infrared

4 October 2020
By Tom Collins
tom@TheCork.ie

Art meets Science at Crawford Art Gallery with The School of Looking

Art meets Science in Invisible Light, an expansive new exhibition where visitors to Crawford Art Gallery can expect to encounter exciting new artworks that explore the Electromagnetic Spectrum. In the exhibition, The School of Looking asks if we can imagine colours that we have never seen, what can we learn from X-Rays, Gamma Rays, and Infrared, and can a banana really create music?

Invisible Light receives its world premiere at Crawford Art Gallery before traveling to other venues, including Expo Dubai in 2021. From the inquisitive minds of The School of Looking, the exhibition is funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme and reignites the heritage of Crawford Art Gallery as an institution for both artistic and scientific endeavour.

Invisible Light puts Art at the heart of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The wrought-iron gates of Crawford Art Gallery still bear the titles ‘Art’ and ‘Science’, referring back to a time when this historic building was a School of Art and Science. Through an ambitious, collaborative endeavour with Tyndall National Institute and the SFI Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) at UCC, Invisible Light imaginatively explores the Electromagnetic Spectrum in its relationship to history, society, artistic creation, and art conservation.

Just as we can describe the spectrum of visible light in seven colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet – we can also divide the Electromagnetic Spectrum into seven zones. The middle zone – the smallest – is the only one we call visible, but in truth, they are all visible to us now. The invention and construction of machine eyes to see all this invisible light has been a collective project since the late nineteenth century, and a visual revolution that has made the whole universe visible to us.

Men and women of science have slowly rendered visible the entire range of energy frequencies that permeates our universe – Gamma Rays, X-Rays, Infrared Radiation, Visible Light, Ultraviolet Radiation, Microwaves, Radio Waves – and imagined extraordinary applications for them, including inventions that have progressed society in countless ways, saving lives, allowing us to see into the molecular structure of our cells, gaze far into the universe, and peer behind micron-thin layers of paint to reveal the secrets of the Grand Masters of art.

Marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of visionary Irish scientist John Tyndall (1820-1893), artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly from The School of Looking have worked closely with scientists from Tyndall and IPIC, and curators at Crawford Art Gallery to imagine an exhibition that truly unites art and science.

Invisible Light shares this adventure with the public through seven newly commissioned artworks. Each one of these explores a region of the Electromagnetic Spectrum and is accompanied by seven weekly Ray Days, days of safe public engagement dedicated to each separate type of radiation.

Invisible Light receives its world premiere at Crawford Art Gallery (7 October – 29 November 2020) and, in 2021, will represent Ireland at the Universal Exhibition in Dubai. Open daily, entry to the exhibition is free.

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