Have you ever been perplexed by a complex concept that, when given a visualization, had it just “click”? Beyond that, once the concept now made better sense, did it open the flood gates of “well, now that I understand this, what if we took it to the next level?” Artist Bill Smith creates beautiful catalyst visualizations for the worlds of microbiology, nanotechnology, data networks and other realms that rely upon the basic design concept of exponential branching.
Smith creates art that demonstrates his background in both the art and science. His amazing exhibit, Beyond the Humanities, can currently be viewed at the World Chess Hall of Fame running through Sept. 15.
Beyond the Humanities
Smith’s background in mechanics, microbiology, chemistry, and sculpture mash up together nicely to result in fascinating works that are part science experiment, part 3D visualization of diagrams straight from textbooks, and part meditational sculpture.
The intricacy and complexity it takes to wield the thin steel filament the way that Smith does is mind-boggling.
Art and Science Inspiration Cycle
By stepping back away from the obvious visual complexity, the phenomenal takeaway is that Smith’s work is both inspired by existing structures in the natural world yet visualizes it in a way that it is set to inspire future research in the same fields, as well as others. This balance between art and science has lead to comparisons to Da Vinci. In Smith’s work, the art is not the end visualization as homage to the beauty in nature – it is a study of design in nature that can be used for future technologies and applications.
An example of this can be found in his work Graphyne:
The graphyne molecular lattice has extraordinary properties, most notably it is vastly superior to the silicon used in current electronics… Monolithic graphyne transistor arrays may soon be a reality. Graphyne technology will lead to dramatic technological innovations (i.e. quantum computing) that may create a post biological society, a world where our biological existence melds with our nano-mechanical/electronic creations.
Cultivating mystery is a powerful tool for spurring innovation in art and science.
About the Artist
Bill Smith lives and works in southern Illinois and is represented by P.P.O.W Gallery, New York. He received a certificate in mechanics from Ranken Technical Institute, a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Chemistry from Southern Illinois University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
Smith’s work has been featured in several solo exhibitions including: P.P.O.W Gallery, New York (2012, 2009, 2007); Saint Louis Art Museum (2008); Gallery 210, Saint Louis (2007); White Flag Projects, Saint Louis (2006); and Chicago Cultural Center (2005). His work has been shown in numerous group exhibitions throughout North Amrica including: Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica (2012); SEVEN, Miami (2011); New Museum, New York (2011); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2010, 2009); PULSE, New York (2010, 2007); PULSE, Miami (2010, 2007); Biennale de Montréal (2007); Parisian Laundry, Montreal (2006); Toronto Alternative Art Fair International (2005); Stray Show, Chicago (2005); Gallery 312, Chicago (2004); and Illinois State Museum, Springfield (2004). Bill has been awarded grants from the Nimoy Foundation (2008), National Endowment for the Arts (2009), and the Warhol Foundation (2010).