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Microcosmos

Inaugural Cornerstone show merges arts and sciences

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Colorado College has chosen a very appropriate exhibit to debut the new Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, a building comprised of theaters, smart classrooms and studios focusing on interdisciplinary studies. Phylum, a video installation, directly blends art and science into a curious, intriguing environment.

The new gallery, the I.D.E.A. Space, lies just steps from the front door, and yet within seconds upon entering Phylum, the atmosphere shifts into a new world altogether. The large room houses four projections of different microscopic vignettes. Protozoa, amoebas and other jellied or crustacean-like organisms float across the walls. At times, hairy creatures are bleached into shadow, scurrying across the plane, and sometimes they just sit as if squished onto the slide.

On the back wall are 29 large paper cut-outs of diagrams from science books. Numbered but not named, they provide details from the anatomy of single-celled organisms. With the projections, though, they add little to the show.

Delicate audio from CC's Bowed Piano Ensemble, and the deep hues from certain projections, keep the room from becoming too sterile. Science and classification have a definite role in the installation, yet so does simple visual satisfaction. Like stained glass, the highly polished floors reflect the happenings on the walls.

What is most accomplished about the show is the way artists Lane Hall and Lisa Moline completely control and manipulate the space. The idea of projecting a large-scale image of a super-magnified creature swimming under the lens of a microscope is practical for fields of science but beautifully voyeuristic. One example shows fluid circulating inside the body of one animal. The effect is fascinating and calming.

The distance between the organism and the viewer feels strangely close through the projections. The patterns of the very small, the very large and the areas between provide a running commentary throughout the show. It brings to mind the opposite end of the spectrum, the unimaginably huge of interstellar space. One deep blue vignette of floating particles recalls the cosmos.

Whether the viewer believes in evolution or creationism isn't the point. The show never touches on the squeamish, either. Phylum is intensely contemplative and meditative, almost to the point that it could be overlooked. As is the case in many video installations, patience provides most of the reward in viewing such work.

There is a school of thought that relates art and science closely, the way math and music seem to go together. This show embraces the similarities, not as a novelty but as a fact of nature.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is now hosting a similar show of scientific art called Art in Science / Science in Art. The UCCS show finds beauty in tests and procedures, yet there is still a polarization of arts and sciences.

Phylum takes it a step further and relates them as nearly the same creative entity.


Phylum
I.D.E.A. Space, CC's Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
Through July 18
Call 227-8263 or visit theideaspace.com.

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