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Art and Nanotech Converge at Cornell

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Pieces of Kimsooja's "Needle Woman" artwork during fabrication in Shanghai show the polymer film developed by Cornell researchers. (Image Credit: Cornell University/Jaeho Chong)

For her newest work, Korean artist Kimsooja wanted to explore a “shape and perspective that reveals the invisible as visible, physical as immaterial, and vice versa.” As artist-in-residence for the Cornell Council for the Arts’ (CCA) 2014 Biennial, she has realized that objective with “A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir,” one of several installations on campus for the semesterlong biennial, “Intimate Cosmologies: The Aesthetics of Scale in an Age of Nanotechnology.” The biennial, which runs through December 21, is a deep survey of artistic and scientific exploration, framing changes in 21st-century culture, art practice and nanoscale technology through collaborative research-based projects by faculty and students and guest artists. Kimsooja’s 46-foot-tall structure features an iridescent polymer film developed at Cornell, reflecting light with structural colors similar to those in a butterfly’s wings. Creating it involved some diligent problem-solving by materials scientists in the lab of Uli Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering.