Science and art : (bio) inspiration for reflection

As we read and write about the upcoming revolution of the Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things, it is legitimate to wonder if this is already happening? Are we really at the dawn of a new civilization? Should this happen? Did it not already happen? Is it a good thing? How does it fit in our current context of global warming, ageing populations, increasing wealth gaps and inequalities?

Art is a convenient means to mediate between the Tech, the Mind and the Laymen, and to reflect on those concerns. Art can concretize our fears, anticipate our world, create fiction from reality, and induce feelings, emotions and critical thinking.

Just picking one artist presenting at the “NTU global digital art prize exhibit”, the work of Marco Barotti particularly touched my senses and mind. Barotti fabricates digital devices that look like animals, and that perform the same tasks as well. For example, claws in nature filter and purify water. In his installation, artificial claws sense the pollution of the water: they get activated by the presence of plastic particles and create sounds by snapping to “voice out” the pollutants. Beyond the primary function, the artwork questions the invasion of artificial devices to replace and threaten natural resources and biodiversity. With similar meanings, Barotti created woodpeckers and swans. Look at Barotti’s artworks on his website: check it out there are really cool videos.

Barotti’s artworks are only a small part of the exhibition, nearby were also impressive 3D printed transparent and translucent exoskeletons representing futuristic revivals of the lost biodiversity of our oceans and a man’s attempt to rebirth. Another reflection on global warming and climate change was a bed of dry and wet sand submitted to vibrations to recreate the traumatic damages induced by aridity and  earthquakes to  landscapes.