SciArt in America

SAiA August 2013

Science-based art publication

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STRAIGHT TALK with Julian Voss-Andreae Julian Voss-Andreae is a German-born sculptor based in Portland, Oregon. Voss-Andreae's sculpture is inspired by quantum physics, for which he pursued a graduate degree, participating in seminal work on quantum mechanics and behavior. (detail) Villin Headpiece Folding detail (2011). Longest object length 11'. Steel, aircraft cable, paint. Q: As a science-based artist, you seem to truly have one foot planted in each discipline. How did you come to combine your two interests, and what do you think your art has gained from your science, and vice versa? A: What later became separate interests had been one thing when I grew up. I always had a very deep sense of awe for nature. My mother told me that she would frequently find me sitting in the sandbox staring at small grains of sand for hours on end. One of my favorite toys of my childhood were Lego blocks; there really was no distinction between the engineering solutions and the aesthetics of the pieces I was working on. When I design a sculpture today there still is an odd feedback loop between engineering solutions that feel elegant and the aesthetics that flows from it. The form always follows "function" — function here doesn't mean a simplistic utilitarian function, but more a mix of engineering solutions and conceptual ideas expressed in terms of "guiding principles". 8 The idea of using guiding principles is one of the tools I have learned to appreciate in science. A grand example is Heisenberg's decision to talk only about things we can measure when he developed his version of quantum mechanics. Q: Your 2011 project with biochemist Daniel Gurnon sounds really interesting, would you tell us a little bit about this collaboration? A: Dan Gurnon called me up out of the blue because he was visiting Portland and he wanted to see my studio. He is teaching biochemistry at DePauw University in Indiana and a friend of his is a Sculpture professor at the same college. So they decided to do a collaborative art/science project and invited me to join them. I was going to contribute my expertise and, together with art and science students, they would build the sculptures. I came to Indiana to get them started and show them how to measure and cut and weld, and then they built SciArt in America August 2013

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