Ian Andrews

What was the inspiration behind your artwork?

In discussion with Prof. Nikolopoulos it became clear that despite obvious differences our specialisms of fine art and particle physics are both concerned with making the invisible visible. Scientific developments have seen the “everyday” dissolve into sub-atomic interactions only accessible by examining traces left in an enabling medium in a detector. A process mirrored by the artist expressing ideas and emotions through marks made and materials manipulated. Taking the same journey from something hidden to something revealed. Initially we compared the material cultures surrounding our two disciplines and focused on a piece of essential equipment in each case, the sketchbook and the most advanced form of detector; the particle collider. We felt that both are connected as arenas where different elements are brought together, sometimes violently involving “active processes” that create and examine the visible traces of hidden interactions to determine if something significant has happened to change the way we understand the world around us. I decided to expose the mechanics of making a drawing in the same way that Prof. Nikolopoulos was revealing elemental particles and I sought to establish equivalents between the particle characteristics of spin, mass and charge and the graphic elements of point, line and shape. This creates an intimate visual and conceptual connection between my visual language and the interaction of elemental particles.

What do you see as the similarity between science and art? Why is science-art important in today's society?

Both are ways of investigating the world and trying to understand the links and connections between things. In the past they would not have been thought of as entirely separate let alone mutually exclusive.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration is particularly crucial at this point in time. Solutions to the various crises that face the planet will invariably come from non-traditional thinking between disciplines rather than people working in isolated specialisms.

Physicists point the way with their vast collaborative “trading zones” of different disciplines required to design, build and experiment with the giant particle colliders at places like CERN. When combined with an artist’s ability to connect, communicate and use creative unconscious scanning we have a recipe for finding solutions and facing the future with more optimism.

Get to know the artist!

My name is Ian Andrews. I studied at the Royal College of Art, London and I’m currently engaged in a collaboration with Prof Kostas Nikolopoulos from the particle physics group at the University of Birmingham that evolved from my life-changing residency at the University in 2018. The project takes as its starting point the search for equivalents between the primary artistic language of drawing and the elementary particles and their interactions. It comprises three main elements: The search for an intimate connection between pure visual language and elemental particle characteristics and interactions. Development of the use of moving image work to explore actual movement and interaction in a drawing context equivalent to the interaction of particles and finally it’s culmination in the development of performative pieces that involve “live” drawing and the cooperation, participation and “interaction” of artists, scientists and members of the public.

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