LANL and Sandia Scientists Collaborate with Artists

The University of New Mexico and 516 ARTS, a nonprofit art space in Downtown Albuquerque, are hosting this summer’s Scientists/Artists Research Collaborations (SARC), in conjunction with the International Symposium on Electronic Art (

The New Mexico Consortium (NMC) and Lockheed Martin are sponsors for this year’s SARC program.

SARC will match artists with scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia to explore how a creative approach can inform scientific discovery and make the science accessible to a broader audience. The collaborations will also investigate the aesthetics of their respective research areas.

“Our culture is aesthetically sophisticated. Scientists share in this common culture, and we think that scientific work could benefit from this type of collaboration,” said Dr. Laura Monroe, the LANL Production Visualization Project Leader in DOE’s Advanced Simulation and Computer program, and Team Leader of the Special Projects Team in LANL’s High Performance Computing division.

“People working on LANL’s ASC Production Visualization project work closely with domain scientists to visualize and interpret data resulting from large-scale simulations, and show these results to national stakeholders in LANL’s world-class visualization facilities, such as the CAVE,” Monroe said. “Our mission is to present data in a compelling way that illustrates scientific results resulting from simulations; we think that this collaboration of artists with LANL scientists should lead to innovative presentation of scientific research of national significance, and may lead the scientists to regard their work in ways not before considered.”

SARC projects will also explore the analysis of large data sets, modeling of complex eco-systems, cognition, memory, and perception studies.

The scientists participating in this summer’s collaborations are from LANL and Sandia National Laboratory, the Santa Fe Institute and the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Susan R. Atlas, Director of the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) and a theoretical scientist who leads research groups in nanoscience and computational cancer biology, explained her interest, and UNM’s involvement, in SARC.

“Cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential to 21st century science, engineering, and biomedicine, and is deeply integrated into the fabric of supercomputing at UNM,” Atlas said. “SARC will continue CARC’s tradition of collaboration at the nexus of art, science, and technology, which has recently included the dedication of a techno/art gallery, and a unique Albuquerque-to-Seattle performance piece presented by UNM artists and professors Jack Ox and Kristen Loree over the National Lambda Rail at Supercomputing 2011. We believe that the greatest insights and advances will result from unexpected encounters among creative researchers who are willing to take the leap and reach beyond the strict confines of their fields. We are very excited to be hosting the artists of SARC in New Mexico this summer.”

The International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2012) will feature the outcomes of these collaborations. ISEA2012 will be held Sept. 15-27 in Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Taos.

The five artists chosen to participate in the project come from across the country, and were chosen from a pool of more than 75 applicants.

When asked why she wanted to be involved in the project, artist Ruth West from the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at the University of California-San Diego replied, “I’m interested in developing new modes of inquiry that bridge art and science in order to go beyond what we can already “see” and “know” through the training and technologies we possess. Working across disciplines with researchers in the sciences, I can develop research with hybrid outcomes that contribute new knowledge as well as public-facing experiences that bring complex science to general audiences.”

Another artist collaborator, Todd Ingalls, Chairman of Graduate Studies at the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University in Tempe, agreed with West, noting, “My experience has been that collaboration across disciplines can lead to valuable discussions and can lead to new research questions. I’m looking forward to meeting with different scientists at LANL to discuss the possibilities of using sonification to investigate different complex systems or data sets.”

The artists will be in New Mexico for on-site collaborations with their scientist collaborators July 5-23, to be followed-up with online, telephone and email exchanges until the ISEA2012 Conference in mid-September, at which time the collaborators will meet again for further interactions and a series of public presentations.

Schedule of 2012 SARC events:

Sept. 10–Oct. 26: SARC public exhibition at UNM School of Architecture & Planning, UNM Main Campus, open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday–Friday.

Saturday, Sept. 15, 1-5 p.m.: ISEA2012 presentation, “Art & Science: The SARC Process,” at the Bradbury Museum in Los Alamos, follows the processes used by the artists and scientists during their collaborations. The public is invited to this featured program of the annual “Next Big Idea Festival of Discovery, Invention and Innovation” event in Los Alamos.

Thursday, Sept. 20, 9-10:30 a.m.: ISEA2012 presentation, “Art & Science: The SARC Process,” artists and science researchers’ presentations at Hotel Albuquerque. The public is invited.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 1-3 p.m.: ISEA2012 presentation, “Art & Science: The SARC Process,” at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Tipton Hall. The public is invited.

The New Mexico Consortium is a non-profit partnership of the three New Mexico Universities. The NMC supports scientific research and education collaborations with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

For more information about NMC, contact Shannan Yeager at 505-412-6898 or at

For more information about SARC, visit or contact co-directors Jack Ox, Associate Research Professor, Music, UNM,, or Richard Lowenberg, SARC/Art and Science Laboratory, at 505-603-5200 or at richard@artscilab.





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