ART & ENGINEERING

Recently, there were calls for engineers to consider the arts in their work.   I think this is great, as it forces us to consider the wider implications of our work and introduces the public to the beauty of good engineering design.  Currently at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry), there are some really cool arty exhibitions that I highly recommend you go and check out!

MOSI is free to get into, but it’s great if you can make a donation.  In 2013 they were faced with closure when their parent organisation faced a funding crisis.

Anyway, on to the exhibitions:

The Sounds Of Others
This was amazing!  It was informative, arty, and a little bit creepy, too!

Unfortunately this has finished now (23rd November). Booooo!  In the ante-room before the main exhibition, there was a chart displaying the frequency of different animal noises.  The accompanying leaflet has a miniature version of the graph printed on it, which is now framed and on the wall in my living room.

We then walked through a dark, curtained corridor to the main room.  This room was very dimly lit, with a wooden bench in the centre.  To each side of this was a large speaker with a digital display.  The displays each have a text description of the animal, and a numerical output where 1.000 represents the sound being played at normal speed.  Below 1, and the sound is being played slower than in nature.  Above 1, and the frequency is increased.

The exhibition begins with an animal sound coming in on one speaker, at speed 1.000.  This plays for about 5 seconds, to allow the listener to identify the sound with the animal named.  Then it gets slowed down / sped up (you can see the numerical value getting higher or lower correspondingly).  Then the second speaker kicks in, with a sound that is like the other animal when sped up / slowed down.  And then the first sound fades out, and after another 5 – 10 seconds or so, the new sound is manipulated and a new animal noise gets played from the first speaker.  And so on.  Some of them are pretty darn eerie.

The idea is that when you compare different animal noises at different frequencies, you can make them sound the same.  Starlings slowed down to 0.5x sound like human children, and a whale sped up sounds like red deer.  Most of the freakiness is in the slowing down / speeding up phase, and it is enhanced by the fact you’re in a very dark room.  The numbing of some of your senses and the enhancement of just your hearing makes it a unique experience.

3D: Printing The Future
This one’s still on, so I can go back to have a closer look – there is a lot of very detailed stuff in here! There are loads of 3D-printed objects in the room to look at (I mean LOADS: there are a good few thousand random 3D things, and all so intricate and complex), with a special focus on a few products. The exhibition looks at how 3D-printing is changing various technologies, and is extremely visually appealing. The page on MOSI’s website (link above) has further information, including a video debunking 3D-printing myths. Open until 19th April 2015.

Wellcome Image Awards 2014
This exhibition has been in the station building at MOSI for a very long time, but is due to close in two weeks! Get yourself down there, this series of pictures is awesome, and it’s free! Plus it’s in the world’s first railway station (the booking desk is still in the entrance hall – coooool), which does make one wonder when they built the second one. Where could you go if the network only has one station? Hehe! Back on topic: this is a series of photographs taken at the microscopic scale. There are things here from the worlds of medicine, chemistry and engineering. When viewed close up, things don’t look the same. But we can find new patterns and beauty in them. This exhibition gave me some quite bizarre thoughts: some of the pictures are of disease, and they actually look very beautiful. Kinda odd to find magic in something destructive.

Harmonious Society
This exhibition is also over.  I’m so glad that I went.  It was an art installation created in conjunction with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.  The exhibition featured the work of over 30 artists, presumably on a rotating basis as I only saw three separate pieces.  The most interesting was a silent film which was… indescribable yet memorable.  A bit odd, and I wasn’t really sure what was going on.  But strangely compelling.

There’s a lot more stuff coming up, too. The great thing about MOSI is that while it has many exhibitions that are a constant feature, it has a large number of changing exhibitions and also an archives section that the public can access parts of. This makes the museum relevant and always interesting. I might even go so far as to say it’s better then the Science Museum in London. How about that, eh?

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