SETI Institute artists are being inspired by our search for alien life.
If one thing animates scientists looking for life elsewhere in the universe, it is the power of cultural exchange—not just with alien species, but also, in more modest ways, among our own species. In 2010 Jill Tarter, then the director of the SETI Institute, met Charles Lindsay, a geologist turned artist, photographer, and musician who had just been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She told him about the wide-ranging research happening at the institute and invited him to visit its observatory. He became “a beta test,” as he put it, for the institute’s artist-in residence program.
Some of the products of that program are now on display at New Museum Los Gatos in California through March 2017. The exhibition, called “Making Contact,” shows what happens when contemporary artists and leading scientists exchange worldviews or, rather, universeviews. “There’s not an artist I’ve met who doesn’t think the idea of an artist-in-residence program at SETI Institute is just about the coolest thing they’ve ever heard,” said Lindsay, who is now director of the residency program. “The scientists to a person have loved it.”
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