In a two-year collaboration between artists and scientists, at the end of each year the artistic and scientific results were presented to a large audience at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
I collaborated with two scientists, Professor Daniel Harries of Hebrew University from the field of nanoscience and Dr. Jennifer Galanis, who use computer simulations to study the tendency of molecules that are in a state of “disorder” to group with similar molecules in an organized way and reject molecules that have characteristics different from theirs.
The regrettable similarity to human behavior was immediately evident – the tendency to gather in a community with those who are similar to us and reject those who are different.
For the joint work with the scientists, I enlisted my super-heroine, my grandmother, Selma who was murdered in World War II.
My grandmother and her doubles as large molecules of one kind heroically faced molecules of the armies of the world.
During the course of the work, we extrapolated from the molecular order of magnitude and investigated the visible order of magnitude that comes next after the molecular. We developed an artistic/scientific installation: a motorized vibrating table that makes it possible for objects placed upon it to move. The objects selected (supposedly to represent the molecular order of magnitude) were different kinds of toys and sweets and duplicated dolls of my grandmother Selma, facing dolls of soldiers.
We always placed a mixture of two kinds of objects on the table and followed their movements. Indeed, under the conditions of vibration on the table, the similar objects grouped together into organized formations and separated from the other sort. The vibrating table performance at the event was an object of great curiosity and expectation: Will the mixed groups break up and the similar objects group together in organized patterns? Sourballs versus gum, ducks versus foxes.
The headliner was the wooden figures of Grandmother Selma versus the wooden soldiers.
Another installation of etched grandmothers versus soldiers and two videos completed the project. One of the videos was an ironic look at images taken from the internet of groups of soldiers arranged in aesthetic formations encountering Selma, and what happens in the meeting with the order-disrupting super-heroine. The second video documented the collaborative process between scientific research and art.
Dr. Jennifer Galanis is a senior researcher in the Chemical Engineering Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheba.
Dr. Daniel Harries is a professor in the field of nanoscience at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Grandmothers against soldiers, installation
Vibrating table installation