Crossover show in China blends science and art

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Albert Einstein's admirers and Andy Warhol's aficionados can find their common interests at a crossover art show in Beijing, as Chinese scientists and artists joined hands to translate scientific ideas into perceptible devices one can watch.

A dozen pieces of installation artwork were put up in a white-walled gallery with sloping roof glasses, allowing more sunshine to pour in to render a futuristic feel.

The showroom, located in 798 Art Zone in Chaoyang district, was once an abandoned factory complex, with age-old auburn bricks of its facade that are reminiscent of its industrial past. It is now a renowned place for museums and galleries of contemporary art.

The exhibition, titled "Beyond the Anthropocene," was made possible thanks to the collaborations between China's top-notch scientists and avant-garde artists.

They managed to make use of scientific concepts like quantum, gene and cosmo to render visual novelty and astonishment, involving the conceptual art initiated by French artist Marcel Duchamp.

Gu Zhenqing, the exhibition's curator, said both scientists and artists explore unknown things that are unique to human beings, as scientists go outwardly and artists inwardly.

"Artists admire the creativity in human minds which is reflected in scientific wisdom," Gu said.

Pan Jianwei, a physicist who led the making of the world's first quantum satellite and China's drive to build quantum computers, infused his understanding about the perplexing quantum world into a pitch-black block resembling a server cabinet in his piece "Schrodinger's Box."

The box, stacked up by tiny sponge cubes, can be split apart diagonally via the motor control to reveal an indented caved-in fracture which hints at the moment of truth when matter collapses.

Xue Qikun, whose team observed the quantum anomalous Hall effect, a discovery that is expected to help accelerate the IT revolution, worked with his artistic collaborator to create a life-size replica of a science lab.

The tin-enveloped lab apparatus displayed there is a reminder of China's intensified efforts over the past few years to build multiple huge science facilities including large telescopes, neutrino probes, dark matter underground lab and fusion energy experiment devices.

Wang Yifang, a high-energy physicist who led the building of several of China's science facilities, collaborated with an artist to hollow an oval hole out of aluminum floor tiles, symbolizing the black hole.

Another highlight of the exhibition is the brainchild of Zhou Qilin, a chemist specializing in catalysis. Artist Fan Bo, drawing inspiration after a conversation with Zhou, juxtaposed posters of brain anatomical notes with test tubes and petri dishes, displaying them on the front table.

"The artists should base their creations on science by which we understand and perceive the modern world," said Wang Haoyi, a researcher of gene engineering with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "And then arts spring up spontaneously."

Wang blended human hairs containing DNA information to hundreds of skeleton-style cotton bags. The three-colored bags had been pieced together to a mosaic pattern depicting morse codes.

"When science meets art, they both 'see' things in a new way," curator Gu said.

The exhibition will run through Sunday.

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