ACCESS: Artist and Scientist Collaborations

ACCESS: Artist and Scientist Collaborations

Explore ideas such as ecology, connected systems, sustainability and climate change through works created by artist-and-scientist teams. Each artist is paired with a scientist to bring a unique, collaborative view of scientific research, making the research more accessible and inviting to museum-goers. The themes for this year’s collaborations are inspired by our newest exhibition, Connected Worlds. Artists and scientists work together over a six-month period, with resulting works taking the form of artist installations, video projections, sound sculptures, workshops or special events.

Works will be showcased at NYSCI November 19, 2016– January 29, 2017.

In addition to bringing the work of local artists and scientists to museum visitors, the project also explores whether artist/scientist collaborations can produce answers to some of the challenges encountered in STEM communication:

  • How can scientific research be made more accessible and inviting to the general public?
  • Why is climate science a difficult topic to address?
  • What different lenses can we, or should we, use to make scientific research more accessible and inviting?
  • Is there a way to communicate climate science that is less focused on fear, and more focused on dialogue and attainable solutions for moving forward and living more sustainably?

Documentation of the conversations between the artist-scientist pairs is a significant component of ACCESS, and will serve to illustrate the process of the collaborations. ACCESS collaborations will be professionally documented and co-produced by science reporter and producer, Flora Lichtman, and installed as video pieces complimenting the artworks.


November 19, 2016 – January 29, 2017: A Tale of Dogs in a Changing World on view during normal museum hours.
December 10, 2016 – January 29, 2017: Monster in the Closet on view during normal museum hours.
December 27 – 30, 2016: 1000 Fingers of Decision open to visitors during the ReMake the Holidays event from noon – 4 pm.
December 27, 2016 – January 29, 2017: Screening of ACCESS Collaboration Video.
January 29, 2017: Closing date of ACCESS at NYSCI.


Artist – Researcher Pairs:

Laura Chipley and Hannah Zanowski

Monster in the Closet
One of the most dangerous and unexplored places in the world may hold the answer to humankind’s most pressing question: Can we sustain our current ways of life without destroying Earth’s ability to sustain us? Illustrated using drawings created by NYSCI visitors, Monster in the Closet follows oceanographer Hannah Zanowski on an animated adventure to study the Southern Ocean’s vital role in regulating Earth’s climate and explores how human activity impacts the furthest reaches of the planet.

On view: December 10, 2016 – January 29, 2017

Visitors can view Monster in the Closet Saturdays and Sundays from noon – 4 pm.

Laura Chipley is a Queens-based artist who uses video, site-specific interventions and emerging technologies to explore potentials for human collaboration and to document the social and environmental impacts of energy extraction.

Hannah Zanowski is pursuing doctorate in physical oceanography in the Atmospheric and OceanicSciences Program at Princeton University. Her research explores the impacts of Antarctic open-ocean polynyas (vast regions of open water in the sea ice) on abyssal ocean properties and circulation.


Carrie Dashow and Matthew Liao

1000 Fingers of Decision 
1000 Fingers of Decision is a project re-envisioning our actions as human beings in the face of climate change. The inventive and thought-provoking work of Matthew Liao, professor of bioethics, highlights the topic of engineering humans to make a better planet and lessen our carbon footprint. His work explores issues such as re-engineering smaller people who would require less energy and resources, and wearing patches that cause allergic reactions in order to force vegetarianism to lessen livestock and greenhouse emissions.

With an ear to Liao’s ideas, combined with Carrie Dashow’s belief in nature’s existence beyond human necessity, 1000 Fingers of Decision encourages visitors to consider one’s relationship to nature, the needs of the planet and the current state of things, as well as the importance of decision-making. The piece prompts visitors to take action and think of new ideas with regards to how they see themselves existing on the planet with its impending needs and issues.

Starting with a polling booth, including a series of logical and scientific questions of ethics, visitors then move into a place with five options for taking personal action or not (via a handmade ceramic finger provided by Dashow). Staff will describe the benefits of the choice made. The choices are: 1. Stewardship and Farming (plant a seed); 2. The Meat Patch (vow to not eat meat for the day); 3. The Donation Station (pledge to donate some of your allowance money to environmental causes); 4. Eating a Donut (choice to indulge oneself and eat a munchkin); or 5. Leave without action of any sort (an unstated option). Visitors are also invited to envision their own solutions at the Research Drawing Station where they can draw their own inventive ideas and choices. Dashow and Liao hope 1000 Fingers of Decision will provide young people with ways to think outside of the box and spark new ideas for how to personally confront climate change.

The piece will be performed December 27 – 30, 2016 from noon – 4 pm.

Carrie Dashow is a New York City-based artist working at the intersection of video, performance and visual arts. Her often-participatory work examines the undercurrents of authority, subjectivity and an indebted relationship to location.

S. Matthew Liao is a philosopher interested in a wide range of issues including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, moral psychology, and bioethics. He is director and associate professor of the Center for Bioethics, and affiliated professor in the Department of Philosophy, at New York University.


 Coche Gonzalez and Jack Tseng

A Tale of Dogs in a Changing World 
Coche Gonzalez has created a 3D animation, A Tale of Dogs in a Changing World.
A dog is sometimes called “a human’s best friend,” but how much do you really know about your BFF? This NYSCI ACCESS project takes you through a 40-million-year journey of the dog family, highlighting the evolution of the predecessors of modern canines in response to climate and environmental changes. A rich fossil record shows a surprising parallel between biting and running adaptations in dogs with those of their distant cousins, the hyenas. If the storied past of dogs is any indication, canines might be in a better position to survive and adapt to accelerating climate change than humans.

On view: November 19, 2016 – January 29, 2017

Coche Gonzalez is a freelance TD/Compositor who has collaborated with various studios in the production of museum exhibitions, commercial animations and film effects. He has also taught at Pratt Institute, Columbia University and the Parsons School of Design and he cofounded the New York City design studio SOFTlab.

Jack Tseng is a paleontologist with interests in both field-based and laboratory-based research on the fossil record of carnivorous mammals. He has led or participated in dozens of fossil digs in California, Utah, Wyoming, Mexico, Taiwan, Inner Mongolia and Tibet.


Access Artist/Scientist Collaborations Video 

The documentation of the conversations between the artist-scientist pairs is a significant component of ACCESS, and serves to illustrate the process of the collaborations. ACCESS collaborations have been professionally documented and co-produced by science reporter and producer, Flora Lichtman, shot by Navigo Productions, Inc., and edited by Really Useful Media.

Flora Lichtman has been covering science and the environment for the last decade. Her science reporting – radio, video and writing – has appeared on NPR, The New York Times, Popular Science, The Atlantic and in a number of film festivals. She is the co-director of the New York Times Op-Docs series Animated Life – short films on pivotal scientific discoveries, animated with paper puppets. She is host of the public radio podcast The Adaptors. Prior to that, Flora was the managing editor of video and substitute host for Science Friday, a two-hour live public radio show. She is co-author of Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us.


This program is supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.