One of my first jobs was at a cinema back in the ‘90s, when films came on reels. I always loved the medium, but it was not until recently that I have grown a new appreciation for it. I remember speaking with Kevin Arrow, art and collection manager at Frost Museum of Science, and Barron Sherer from Obsolete Media Miami, about their love for film. It is a medium that, while in decline because of everything going digital, seems to be having a second coming in some circles. Kevin suggested we should do something together. He and Barron had hosted film screenings in the past in different venues around Miami, and there was definitely a genuine interest from the community, especially when these films were enhanced with other artistic media and performances.
To bring art and science enthusiasts together, Frost Science submitted the concept of Science Art Cinema for the Knights Art Challenge and won. With Knight Foundation support, we now have the opportunity to host a series of four events that mix 20th century science and science fiction films with artistic performances and multimedia presentations. The series will culminate with an event that will include a call to action for newly-created and locally-made films, in addition to a catalog to which the community will also be asked to contribute.
The inaugural Science Art Cinema event will take place at the museum’s current location on Saturday, Aug. 29.
But first things first: what is the subject of our first Science Art Cinema event?Lasers, a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. While Albert Einstein established the theoretical foundations for the laser in 1917, it was not until 1960 that Ted Maiman invented the first working laser. Recognized as one of the top ten technological achievements of the 20th century, lasers contributed to the advancement of science, medicine and entertainment. Simultaneously, lasers also generated a great deal of interest and excitement amongst the artistic community, and artists began experimenting with them in the 1960s. Lasers played a key role in the art and technology movement by means of holograms, X-Y scanning, laser light shows and laser sculptures. They also became a must in music performances for a complete entertainment experience.
Today, when thinking about lasers, we find ourselves in a dichotomy. On the one hand, lasers are a thing of the past, a technology that among adults, touches on nostalgia in a way that few do. It is impossible to not think about the original “Star Wars” trilogy, early Pink Floyd tours and the LaserDisk. On the other hand, lasers are a thing of the future, a technology that is still destined to revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us. This dichotomy makes the laser the perfect subject for the first Science Art Cinema. The event will also be the last special event at the historic 1966 Miami Space Transit Planetarium, well-known among the community for its laser shows (the closing laser show took place on Aug. 8 during Laser Fest), marking the end of its run ahead of the opening of the new Frost Planetarium next summer in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. Past and future meet again in a poetic way.
Science Art Cinema #1: Lasers on Aug. 29 will include a series of 20th century films about the early days of the laser curated by San Francisco film archivist Stephen Parr of Oddball Films, a brief discussion about the future of the laser between Frost Science’s Alexandra Kuechenberg and renowned artist Matthew Schreiber triggered by a short documentary, and an immersive laser sculpture and soundscape by Schreiber activated by a live music performance. Six local guitar artists, including Autumn Casey of Snakehole, Rick Fantasies, Gavin Perry and Beatriz Montevaro of Holly Hunt, Julie Ghoulie of Crud, and Frank “Rat Bastard” Falestra of Laundry Room Squelchers, will be playing a piece conducted by Cody Boyce to bid the historic planetarium farewell in style.
The Science Art Cinema event series will continue in the fall and the spring with the second and third events taking place in venues throughout Miami, and concluding with the fourth and final event at the new Frost Planetarium in 2016.