Topics: College of Fine Arts, College of Architecture and Planning, College of Sciences and Humanities

September 25, 2017

Adam Brown's live biochemical installation
Adam Brown, The Great Work of the Metal Lover
The interplay of art and science—a concept at least as old as Leonardo da Vinci—is the focus of “Engaging Technology II,” the newest exhibition opening at Ball State University’s David Owsley Museum of Art.

Beginning Sept. 28 through Dec. 22, museum patrons can discover a selection of works of internationally renowned artists whose explorations on the topic include installations, code art (artwork generated by computer programming), augmented and virtual reality and human-computer interaction.

“‘Engaging Technology II’ is both a sequel and a new concept,” said Robert La France, the museum’s director. “It builds on the success of a show at the museum about a decade ago that focused on the emergence of intermedia, which is the melding of electronics and art.” La France says the new show builds on the STEM concept by adding arts into the mix, “elevating the creative aspects of art to the same level as the so-called hard sciences.”

Curating the exhibition is Ball State’s John Fillwalk, director of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA Lab) in the College of Architecture and Planning.

“This exhibition continues to position Ball State as a center of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) innovation,” said Fillwalk, who’s also a professor of electronic art. He said the first Engaging Technology exhibition in 2007, which he also curated, set attendance records for the museum.

“The goal of “Engaging Technology II” was to invite artists exploring the edges of art and science to our community—advancing our conversation about interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. This collection of artists works across various aspects of the physical and life sciences, from code and biology to chemistry and physics.”

Among those individuals whose work will be featured in the exhibition is Adam Brown, an associate professor at Michigan State University. His live biochemical installation, “The Great Work of the Metal Lover,” is a work that sits at the intersection of art, science and alchemy.

“It uses microbiology as a technique to solve the mystery of the philosopher’s stone,” said Brown, who described the centuries-old “stone” as a legendary substance sought by alchemists who believed it capable of turning metals like mercury into gold and silver.

His installation uses custom lab equipment to introduce a “highly specialized” bacterium into an engineered atmosphere, turning toxic gold chloride into usable 24K gold. Brown’s display will allow museum patrons to watch the transmutation occur in real time. “By the end of the exhibition, it’ll produce enough gold to put in the palm of your hand,” Brown said.

Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, 10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid 

Other innovative contributors to “Engaging Technology II” include code artist Casey Raes; composer and visual artist Tristian Perich; and Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand, European-Russian artists who create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices.

“10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid” is Domnitch and Gelfand’s live, audiovisual performance to be presented on the domed screen of Ball State’s Charles W. Brown Planetarium. The artwork uses a penetrating laser beam to scan the surface of soap bubbles, the behavior of which model the unique properties of cell membranes.

La France said “Engaging Technology II”—along with the museum’s concurrent exhibition, “Action! The Anatomy of LeRoy Neiman’s Champions”— demonstrates that the museum’s offerings are “about more than just paintings and sculptures. We have something for everyone to enjoy.”

Throughout the run of “Engaging Technology II,” a series of invited performances, lectures and workshops will be scheduled on campus and in the Muncie community to enhance the exhibition’s programming. Classes, workshops, lectures and family events are also planned for both local and regional audiences. For more information, visit