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Why Science and The Maker Faire

People often ask me, why science?

What they really want to know is why do I want to make art and jewelry based on something as dull and stuffy as nose in a textbook, eyeball in a microscope, science? I realize that what I make is slightly unusual in the grand scheme of things but in my opinion there is nothing dull or stuffy about science at all and any people who think that way probably haven’t had a chance to take a closer look. In fact, science and art have had a groping, passionate, rip-your-clothes-off love affair throughout the ages and will continue to play with and upon one another until this wacky human animal ceases to exist.

Arts and the sciences both utilize the same creative energy source to propel them into the future and to cement their ideas into the collective culture. Both do an interpretive dance along the precipice of possibilities. Science and art both reach into the subconscious and bring back the awe-inspiring ideas of tomorrow. Both fail miserably and both desperately try again. Both disciplines have a desire to understand and a desire to communicate. Both build upon empirical knowledge by flipping information on its head and investigating from all directions and both find what is new.

Creative minds work not only on the masterpieces in literature, in paint, in dance, theatre, and song, but also in the labs across the world. As long as there are students manipulating e coli so that it smells like bananas and mint and as long as there are far away worlds and life forms yet to discover and diseases to cure and synthetic life and robotic friends to create and fossils to discover, there will be inspired artists playing with similar ideas throughout the lands. And as long as there are science fiction writers and futuristic cartoonists there will be inspired scientists and engineers as well. We are after all, in this together.

A great example of a happy coexistence of art and craft and science and innovation took place this past weekend at the Bay Area Maker Faire. little robotThere were artists, crafters, inventors, engineers and scientists all packed into an awe inspiring faire the likes of which I had never seen. I had my Surly-Ramics Smart Jewelry on display and so I couldn’t get out and about too much but I did manage to bring back some fun morsels that I hope will inspire you to understand why I truly love both science and art.

Photo tour after the jump.

Here is a just a tiny sample of fun and inspiring things I was lucky enough to see at the Bay Area Maker Faire.

DUDE! There was a commercial spacecraft there! A SPACECRAFT!
spacecraft
Morris Jarvis from Star Systems INC. created a full scale prototype of a commercial spacecraft named, HERMES. The goal of the project is to create more reasonably priced spaceflight to private citizens. Awesome.
spacecraft info

There were solar powered fireflies!
fireflies
Humble Earth Productions created little solar powered fireflies that will live in the backyards of us city folk who don’t have any real ones of our own! They flicker for about two hours after the sun sets, just like the real fellas. So cool! Click here to learn more and to see them in action!

There were crocheted cephalopods!
cephalopods
And dancing flames! (both by Skeletal Dropkick)
dancing flame

VAMBIT, a designer toy company let us build our own robots!
lil robots

There were super-soft ADORABLE fuzzy monster bags that would gobble up your cellphone and hold it till you needed it later. Handcrafted by Abby Did.
She has lots of other plush monsters you just can’t help but LOVE!
monster bag

Speaking of plush love, one of my all-time favorite jewelry designers was there, Raven Hanna of Molecular Muse!
Shown here with her handmade huggable glucose molecule!
huggable molecule
You may be more familiar with Raven’s AWESOME silver molecule jewelry.
made with molecules

LEGO sponsored part of the event and there were AMAZING LEGO cities and trains…
lego city
And LEGO robot-monsters!
lego monsters

Adam Savage was there. He gave a talk on problem solving. (Spoiler for TAM8? We will have to wait and see!)
adam savage

Oh yeah, and of course I was there too!
Surly Amy
(photo by Sasha Pixlee who was also there!)

I had all my science and secular humanism and atheist designs on display.
surlies

Most of the 70,000 or so attendees were extremely supportive and pleased with my work.
surly-ramics description of smart jewelry
One person got upset and asked why my art was so anti-religion. I responded that it wasn’t anti-religion. It was pro-reality.

One other person got mad at a pendant that says, “science saves lives.” She told my assistant that science doesn’t save lives because it allows for abortions. Sigh. Sadly, I did not hear the comment so I could not respond but in a sense I did respond in a quieter gentler and more humanitarian way. I donated $250 of the money I made from selling Surlies over the weekend to, Doctors Without Borders.

I hope you enjoyed the tiny sample of the Bay Area Maker Faire. It was a blast! You can find out more about Maker Faire by clicking here.

And don’t forget to be happy and:
make stuff
(I brought this shirt home for Johnny!)

Cheers!

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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10 Comments

  1. Sounds like an incredible event! And I just have to laugh at the “science doesn’t save lives because it allows for abortions” comment. I’m sure she’ll be thinking that whenever she takes a prescription medication or a loved one has to have surgery. Seriously, there is no way to win with those people.

  2. I usually like to point to Rube Goldberg machines when people wonder how science and art can mix.

    LOL @ ZenMonkey. Yeah, they’re a constant source of amusement. SCIENCE: the great fly in the ointment of our lives, ruining all our fun and killing our children. Science is a faceless evil to them, a man in a lab coat holding a pitchfork and urinating on a bible.

  3. The MakerFaire was great fun. And this article does a great job in explaining why art and science are so good together.
    Love people who don’ t like to think they use science everyday just to get out of bed because they have such a strong cognitive dissonance.
    And thanks for donating to Doctors Without Borders! They are such a fantastic organisation.

  4. Oh man… I am jealous. I haven’t been able to make the Austin Maker Faire in the past because of conflicting events.

    And I’d love to hear the Adam Savage talk on problem solving! I’m a tech support geek who is responsible for training the other geeks, so it would probably be handy!

  5. The Mint and Banana Scented Bacteria Story is a bit lagging behind in time with their reporting.
    The guys at MIT did that work years ago as one of the first submissions for the annual international Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM).

    Its worth checking out iGEM btw, they have created a whole database with thousands of backwards compatiable DNA pieces that are usefull in constructing new functions in bacteria.

    http://2010.igem.org/Main_Page
    http://partsregistry.org/Main_Page

  6. That sounds so fantastic, I wish I could have joined you there (maybe next year).

    The anti-science whack-a-loons will never learn, because they don’t want to. They embrace their particular brand of crazy, and consider science to be the “opinion” of scientists, because their dogma is the “opinion” of its adherents. I have actually heard them criticize science _because_ it changes over time.

    Also, it is so wonderful that you hooked up Doctors without Borders, they are a great organization.

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