Art and Science: A Work in Progress

Edwards says he hopes the lab can inspire students to set into motion ideas that have a cultural value.

“We’re interested in students developing ideas and being able to imagine bringing them all the way to fruition,” Edwards says. “We want to give them as many resources as we can to help that idea go as far as it can.”


Sunday’s opening celebration for The Laboratory will feature exhibitions by current Harvard undergraduates, ranging from a new way to transport water to a program that translates heart beats into music to a way of making electricity from bacteria in dirt.

When Michael P. Silvestri ’10 saw the difficulty women and children in third-world countries like Namibia had transporting and purifying water with existing resources, he and a team of students developed a new container that was both easy to transport and economically feasible.


“Basically our idea is a portable, collapsible, rugged-use water purification and transportation device that models the form and function of a biological cell,” says Silvestri.

George Zisiadis ‘11 took his project in a different direction, creating Streetview, a new way of experiencing public space.

“It’s an experience via the lives of strangers,” says Zisiadis. “What that means is that people’s memories and experiences within a space are recorded and captured and then people can listen to those memories that people have had in that space by walking around.”

His demo on Sunday will feature an iPhone with a map of Harvard Yard and a block representing a person. Audience members can drag the block around and simulate walking though the yard while experiencing the changing things they would hear if they were actually walking from Memorial Church to Widener Library.

Wei based her Gigue music project off a study done at the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which found that healthy hearts literally sound more musical than unhealthy ones. She says she hopes to expand the program to measure more than just heart rate.

“I took that idea and ran with it,” Wei said. “Basically Gigue is an interactive musical experience where music is derived in real time through the senses of our body. I wanted to track people’s biorhythms, like heart rate or gait, in real time, and convert that into music.”

Wei collaborated with programmers who are also musicians to set up her exhibition, which will allow audience members to see their heart rate converted into a melody.

Just like the space in which The Laboratory is being created, these student projects are a still under development.

“The idea of the space is to showcase process,” says W. Hugo Van Vuuren ‘07, a Fellow at SEAS, who will be helping to start up The Laboratory at Harvard. “The space itself is a work in progress. The space is in beta—modular and always evolving.”

—Staff writer Alissa M. D’Gama can be reached at