Week 2_North/South Mixer_Wenjing Wu

2009-01-14_north___south_mixerThis quarterly North/South Mixer,  located in Californiz Nanosystems Institute, is held today in the hope of ”mixing” people “from across disciplines and geographies”.090114-north-south-mixer-009

I think most people today went there for more than the food because the lobby of C(N)SI was so noisy that the sensors in PITMM’s art piece became soundwave-overloaded.
Introduction to Particle Sniffer

The *Partical Sniffer/Partical Profiler* prototype developed by the *particle group*, is a sniff-scan technology that captures nano scale elements, such as carbon 60, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that have clustered on or beneath the skin of individules who have unknowingly been using nano-based particle products ranging from transparant Suntan lotions, a large number of skin care products, and a wide variety of makeup products to some type of fabrics(800 products and counting world wide).

The *Particle Sniffer* sonic-simulation installation is based on a nano-sized surface acoustic chip, wich works by disturbances in sound waves as they pass across micro-quartz crystals. This *dog on a chip* is coated with a thin layer of cloned antibody proteins that bond to specific particles, such as carbon 60. The sound waves passing through that sensor can then be compared with an uncoated control crystal: differences in the waves mean the chip has picked up trace amounts of the target particles.

I tried to walk through the installation and turned around especially when in front of the sensors–just like what everyone was doing–and I heard a blast then some voices coming out from the speakers. They seemed like speaking different foreign languages. I could only figured out that the arc in the middle said “No nano materials”. Most audience showed their strong interests by walking by every column and making comments.


Everybody is excited.



Nina, the artist, is showing a young visitor how the whole system works.

The exhibition also included video clip showed on several ipods. All about art issues and contemplation over nano technology.
090114-north-south-mixer-021090114-north-south-mixer-017I decided to do an informal interview with the audience and it turned out to be very benefitial.

I did my interview with Gauvain, an engineer from the court of science. He was very well informed of the topic and purpose of this “mixer” yet when asked about his feeling about the *Particle Sniffer* he said he was confused and he hadn’t read the introduction thoroughly. Because the introduction of this art piece was printed with low contrast to the background on a tiny piece of paper. Gauvain suggested that there should be more large posters and explanations on each column telling people what’s going on, what every part of the column functions, and why they are speaking different languages. Besides that, Gauvain’s another concern was how this art piece contributed to arts. It is obvious, he stressed, that the *Particle Sniffer* was no doubt helping the public feel involved in nano technology and introducing science to non-scientists. But what about art? Isn’t it supposed to be a dialogue rather than a monologue? My guess on this question is that by the process of showing curiosity and detecting the nano particles on their body, every participating individules will able to communicate with the artist and explore more abouth themselves. Drawing the attention of public, orienting their emotion and thoughts, that’s what art does.

–by Wenjing Wu

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