OpenLab is a collaboration between the arts and the sciences where scientists basically are looking for new and innovative ways to view and present their research in a way that is accessible to the general public. We might know something about visualizing our data in a way that is useful to us scientifically, but we may not know the best way to do that for presenting to the general public. so the collaboration is about doing that in an effective way.
What happens is the scientists would give a small lecture of what their data is about and then they sit down and brainstorm how these things can be visualized in whole new ways. All the data that the scientists have get sent over to the artist and the artists break that down and turn it into a whole new way of looking at it.
I founded OpenLab as a way to create hybrid practices between art and science, community, design and technology. We use a programmer, fabricator, an electronics person, an engineer, someone who is experienced in gaming. So, everybody has a specific role and they come into it with a skill, which then is shared.
I started working with Jennifer Park with OpenLab last summer doing a collaborative project between astrophysicists and artists essentially.
And in the case of this its a data representations. It's a visualization of a simulation. So, what we were able to do with this is create a real model and so instead of just looking at it on a two dimensional computer screen, even as a 3D rendering, In this case you see a three dimensional animation so you see this event happening in 3D so you can look at the front of it and the back of it and the side of it all at the same time as this thing is spinning around
Our group was working on visualizing tidal disruptions and making that into a sort of game that people could play so they could basically have an interactive version of the galactic center. We just basically combined a few movies that I generated from the hydrodynamical simulations that I've run of these disruptions with a Nintendo Wii system and you only have a certain chance to get the star close enough to the black hole where it will be destroyed.
I think just seeing visually what happens, even if you don't really understand what exactly what is causing the movies that people were viewing during the running of the exhibit, at least that gives them some context so that when they go back and maybe read up on it later they have a picture in their brain of basically what the encounter looks like.
The scientists tend to think in a specific way about their research. By sharing their research with us and seeing the ideas that we come up with they're sometimes then able to shift their thinking about their own research.
We maybe have a perspective on their research that they haven't thought about or we may have an idea about a method or a way of showing something, which allows them to see something different and then in seeing something different, they're then able to re-contextualize their research and take it further.