LACMA�s �nano� exhibit is on display now through September.
By Rhea Cortado DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Vesna and Jim Gimzewski began engineering the interactive,
all-ages exhibit "nano" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts' Boone
Children's Gallery, they did not anticipate aggressive children
breaking the cameras and microphones or getting lodged in the
Gimzewski, a chemistry professor at UCLA, takes all these technical difficulties in stride.
"I just love the sense of freedom and fun where all the
restraints (of 'don't touch') you normally have in a museum are gone,"
With all these malfunctions and children running around
screaming inside the "Quantum Tunnel," do the little ones or even their
adult counterparts understand the connections between nanotechnology
and the exhibits?
The creators, hailing from various departments at UCLA,
stressed that their intention is to create a fun experience rather than
an instructive science exhibit, especially since there are few known
facts in the field of nanotechnology. "We wanted to provoke
imagination, visions, thinking, questioning," said Vesna, a UCLA Design
| Media Arts professor and the department chair.
As children play with the geometric connector sets on a
mirrored table, adults are challenged on a different level,
interpreting quotes pulled from science fiction, literature and
academic texts compiled by English Professor Katherine Hayles. For
those who want to explore nanotechnology more deeply, Hayles is editing
a collection of essays discussing the cultural implications of this new
science to be released in April.
The free exhibit, ongoing until September and inspired by the
new field of science, nanotechnology, invites visitors into a sensory
experience of sound and touch. Multiple speakers emit a symphony of
melodic humming sounds from different directions as the visitor treads
through dark spaces and push buckyballs across a projected screen with
their shadows. In the "nano" exhibit, where a nanometer is a billionth
of a meter, creative thinking becomes increasingly important in
exploring this field as Newtonian physics no longer apply on the
Andrew Pelling, a third-year graduate student in chemistry who
contributed to the sound component of the exhibit and aids in its
maintenance, explains that as nanoscience is in an experimental state,
"(the exhibit itself) is an experiment. It is something that changes
and throwing in all these kids takes out the theory in the process of
what works best."
"Nano" relies on computer technology that is never 100 percent
efficient. Since the opening, the already-sturdy cameras and
microphones enclosed in plastic spheres and connected to a movable tube
in the "Quantum Tunnel" exhibit broke from children banging the two
spheres together, and the wires inside the tube shredded from excessive
Kids try to climb on and toss the 3-foot robotic white balls
in the "inner cell" installation, so it is difficult to make the
association that the balls are remote controlled by trackballs on a
table found on the outside of the cell.
In the same way that "Nano" connects generations of art
enthusiasts, the creators of the exhibit wanted to bridge the gaps
between north and south campus. Master of Fine Arts Design | Media Arts
student Anne Niemetz and Pelling, who met working on the sound
component of "nano" along with undergraduate media arts student Tenzin
Wanchuk, are using the ideas from "nano" in collaborating on Niemetz'
thesis. They will stage a concert this spring called, "The Dark Side of
"Stage presentation has to change with electronic music. Most
of the time (during the concert), we're not going to be physically
present, so it's going to be a journey to get the visitor to be
immersed in the experience," said Niemetz.
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