CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Art, science, the element of time and interactive technology join forces in the Clay Center's latest exhibit, "All the Time in the World."
"The exhibit fits the art and science mission of the Clay Center," said Arif Khan, Clay Center's curator of art. "The two visual artists are both inspired by the history of science in their work."
Khan curated the exhibit, which previously was displayed at the McColl Center for Visual Art, in Charlotte, N.C. It's the first exhibit by a Clay Center curator to be shown at another arts institution.
It features works by Stanford University art professor Gail Wight, whose work explores the history of science, and University of New Mexico electronic media professor Mary Tsiongas, who looks at humans' impact on nature.
Khan had the idea for the exhibit about 1 1/2 years ago after Wight gave a presentation at the Clay Center. Patrons, enthused about the talk, requested an exhibit featuring her work. Much of Wight's work includes an element of time, so Khan sought another artist whose art emphasized time.
He found one in Tsiongas, who features images such as tree rings to show the passing of time, often with an interactive element that brings in a contemporary concept.
In "Dendrochronologist's Dilemma," an oversize image of a tree ring projected on a wall stands behind a touchpad that shows the same image. When a viewer touches the screen, a shadowy image appears on the projected tree rings. Images of families, seasons and animals appear, depending on where the viewer touches the screen.
"Tsiongas uses the theme of the tree rings representing dates and a life circle and intersperses personal memories," said Khan. Her works often contrast nature's perception of time with how the viewer remembers it.
The exhibit also points out the ways in which science has influenced contemporary art.
"Ground Plane," by Wight, is a series of 12 large prints of patterns created through digital images of fossilized and newer bones that were available to her through the science departments at Stanford.
"There were drawers and drawers of bones, and she wondered what she could do with them," Khan said. None of the bone images are repeated in any of the 12 prints. They range from modern bones to those that are 10,000 years old.
Two other motion-picture pieces by Wight document surprisingly beautiful slime molds and lichens as they grow. The time-lapse photography of each piece contrasts the fast-growing slime with the lichen's more glacially paced growth.
Although some of the screens resemble iPads, they were built in 2001 and don't have the same technological capabilities. Khan said children, who are accustomed to today's technology, touch and swipe the pads without result.