23 July-8 September, LAB-14 Gallery (Opening 23 July, 6.30PM)

Featuring: Gary Anderson, Anna Madeleine, Kay Rozynski, Erica Seccombe, Katie Sfetkidis, Rob Turney, Quantum Victoria, The Vision Lab

Curator: Dr Renee Beale

Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-4pm, and Thursday 10am-6pm.
Special viewing: Sunday 26 July 10am-4pm, and Sunday 16 August 10am-4pm.

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct,” Carl Jung.

Bubbles, luminescent sea creatures, collages made from fluorescent star stickers, and magnified germinating seeds provide a lens through which the curious can glimpse the results when scientists and artists play.

Knowledge of scientific discovery and time spent in a laboratory teaches us that structured process can give way to playful curiosity when a new toy is discovered. Similarly, the artists’ studio can be a place of intuitive experimentation leading to accidental discovery.

Light, which has great significance to both artists and scientists, is an ideal medium for looking into this play instinct.

Light Speculation communicates the wonderment of light as a phenomenon, and explores play as a source of discovery and innovation.

‘Serious play’ has an established history in both the sciences and the arts.  This is infrequently acknowledged in the sciences, despite Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, musing that “new ideas are not generated by deduction, but by artistically creative imagination”.  But this concept is once more gaining popularity in the new era of “innovation”.

A famous example of this is the discovery of the x-ray image. One afternoon in 1895 whilst investigating the cathode ray tube, Willhelm Roentgen speculatively placed his hand in front of the tube. After being surprised to see his bones, he took a photograph.

Likewise, as part of his interest in light and shadows, artist James Turrell experimented with cutting holes in the ceiling of his Santa Monica studio. Despite almost being evicted, this process has subsequently led to the creation of 89 Skyspace works.

The visitor to Light Speculation is challenged; to find a vaccine for a mysterious virus through a light-based game created by Quantum Victoria, to consider their perception of colour through an experiment by Dr Simon Cropper from The Vision Lab, and to consume light word play by poet Kay Rozynski.

But beyond the playful exterior, artists Gary Anderson, Anna Madeleine, Erica Seccombe, Katie Sfetkidis, and Rob Turney encourage us to think as we discover the mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics behind their practice. They present a unique gateway where we can view virtual luminescent fields, the 3D atomic compositions of crystals, 4D microscopy techniques, bioluminescence, and light refraction.

These works prompt us to consider the basic elements of any discovery, scientific or artistic: work and play, and the serious space in between.

This exhibition celebrates the International Year of Light 2015, and is proudly supported by Media Lab Melbourne.

The exhibition opening is part of Nite Art 2015.

Image courtesy: Anna Madeleine.

We would like to acknowledge the following partners/organisations:

International Year of Light

Media Lab Melbourne

Nite Art 2015

Anna Madeleine
Anna Madeleine is an emerging artist with an interest in the intersection between art, technology and science.
Kay Rozynski
Conceptual poetry and prose: texts that conscientiously wear the material conditions of their production and performance on their sleeves.
Erica Seccombe, GROW (detail), mungbeans and alfalfa germinating in 4D. A still image from a 6 min single channel projection. 
Credits: Australian National University Department of Applied Mathematics, and Drishti, VizLab, ANU Supercomputer Facility, NCI, National Computational Infrastructure.
Erica Seccombe
Erika's project, GROW, provides a unique, immersive experience of observing a life-system at a level not usually detected by the human eye.
Katie Sfetkidis
A light artist, in her practice Katie creates lighting and sound installations that explore the relationship between light and dark.
Rob Turney
Rob is a photographer who works predominantly with light as a sculptural medium, and uses the photographic process to capture his work.
Quantum Victoria
In an alternate reality, a pathogen known as “The Virus” has spread throughout the globe, infecting the majority of the world's population.
The Vision Lab
The representation of colour in the world we experience has been the subject of debate and introspection for centuries.
Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson is a Melbourne based artist whose work deals with transience and memory.