Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Guerrilla Science at Figment Art Festival 2015

Posted 08 Jun 2015 / 0

On Sunday, June 7th, I was able to drag the family out to the Figment Art Festival on Governor’s Island, where we got a chance to check out the Guerrilla Science space. Mark Rosin, my newest full-time colleague in the Department of Mathematics and Science, is one of Guerrilla Science‘s directors and organized this event.

We arrived a bit late in the day so we missed some of the events, but we did get to see one competition in the Oobleck Olympics and to check out the Intergalactic Travel Bureau, String Art, and Reflections on Lasers installations. All of these installations compel participants to play with various “toys” that have the potential to get them thinking about scientific and mathematical principles. Interacting with the Guerrilla Science installations produces a lot of “gee whiz” and “how does that work?” moments, although participants could also just have fun playing; exploring beyond the experience is up to individual participants.

I am fascinated by this sort of public science work, in part because I am not sure how it works and what its potential is. It is amazing how excited people become by these sorts of displays. There is a ton of visual stimulation at festivals like this, so much that it starts to feel a bit overwhelming, so visual and experiential installations that actually connect to ideas beyond stimulus are a bit of a unique island at these events. And people seem to really enjoy science-based experiences. But I must admit that I would not begin to know how to create such an event…

Guerrilla Science‘s space featured both outdoor experiences and installations in a small house
The Oobleck Olympics course features challenges that favor those who master their underlying scientific properties
Carnival-styled hosts welcomed and encouraged participants (and blasted each other with smoke rings in between contests)
One of the Guerrilla Science emcees gets blasted with a smoke ring
A Minor Post, Art & Design, Department of Mathematics & Science

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