Chroma: Art Meets Science

28 Oct

This weekend was the first of the Science Festival and it didn’t disappoint.  I performed in Science Showoff at MOSI on Friday night, which was an awesome night with a huge turnout. It was really fun, the Science Showoff people were ace and I thought all the other performers were amazing. If you’re ever in a town where there’s a showoff happening I would highly recommend attending or getting involved. On Saturday I went to see science meets art lecture, Chroma, which was a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon and on Sunday I attended the Manchester Girl Geek Wikipedia editing day. I learned a lot in the latter, so much so I’m going to put it in a separate post (coming soon).

Chroma, the arts meets science lecture was a brilliant show. It explored some of the themes in the late Derek Jarman’s book, which he wrote as a homage to colour. The tragic twist in this narrative is that Derek wrote the book as he was going blind due to AIDs related complications. Jenna Ashton discussed the book and talked about the evocative and emotive effects of colour as well as their intrinsic meaning to us. She took us through black into white via each colour in the spectrum.

2013_10_27_22_32_17 (1)Dr. Frank Mair explained the science of colour, from the light spectrum to the production of pigment. For each colour Jenna discussed, Frank had a very cool flash bang-esque demonstration to show how we perceive colour. This was aided by a machine that split the different wavelengths of light like a prism. The resulting different colours were captured using a webcam and fed into a computer with some specialised software that showed the light spectrum being captured. Frank explained that our eyes can detect light with certain wavelengths and when all these wavelengths reach our eyes together they appear white. WP_001652

Different molecules absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others. For instance, chlorophyll is the molecule in plants that is responsible for photosynthesis. It harnesses the energy from most light wavelengths during photosynthesis, but not green light. The wavelengths of green light are therefore reflected and leaves look green to us. The demonstrations for each colour really were something else, here’s an example (please excuse my poor camera skills):

I really liked it when Frank discussed the use of white pigment to depict light in some of his favourite paintings and would have liked to have heard more about that. The show has definitely made me want to read Derek’s book and I feel like I have a better understanding of 2013_10_27_22_34_57the science of colour and light now. This is the second time (possibly even third….I’m not sure!) this show has been run so if it is put on again next year I would definitely recommend going along. Whether art, science or both are of interest to you, I think you’ll enjoy the show. Just be prepared to jump out of your seat when the flash and bangs come into play.

For a sneak peak behind the scenes check out MelancholyScientist‘s post here.

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2 Responses to “Chroma: Art Meets Science”

  1. jcashton October 29, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Reblogged this on Colour/ "Chroma" and commented:
    Elizabeth Granger writing on Sat’s performance of Chroma. Vid and pics included! …..

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  1. Chroma: Art Meets Science #MSF13 | Melancholy Scientist - October 28, 2013

    […] BioFluff – Chroma: Art Meets Science […]

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