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Artist-in-Residence Draws Inspiration from Physics

By Jiang Li, Contributing Writer

Kim Bernard, the inaugural Artist-in-Resident in the physics department, showcased her interactive kinetic sculptures, including bouncing concrete balls attached to springs and a harmonograph that draws patterns by swinging pendulum, at a talk on Friday, Feb. 20.

She also modeled shoes with springs affixed to the bottom and shared her sources of inspiration at the event, “Collision: Where Art & Science Meet,”  which drew attendees from the Graduate School of Design, Extension School, and the physics department.

According to Jacob A. Barandes, associate director of Physics Graduate Studies, her art attempts to access the “aesthetic realm of physics.”

Bernard began her residency this January, after several years of communicating and coordinating with members of the department. While neither party remembers who reached out first, Barandes recalls learning about Bernard’s exhibit in the Boston Sculptors Gallery in 2011 and realizing that her work could offer the missing artistic element the department had sought.

Bernard’s studio is located in Science Center 302. This semester, she will sit in on department classes, and attend workshops on machine, lasers, and nanoscale technology. She said she also hopes to collaborate with members of the physics community, especially students in “Physics 15a: Introductory Mechanics and Relativity,” who are looking for a non-traditional final project.

In the meantime, Bernard will continue to walk the line between the fields of science and art, she said.

“With physics, there is an answer to your pset: it’s right, it’s wrong,” Bernard said. “So you go through the steps as efficiently as you can, to arrive at the answer. With art, there’s no right or wrong, but there is a process that you go through and it is a creative process.... It is a different process that a different physics students go through at the yes or no answer.”

–Contributing writer Sharon Yang contributed reporting to this story.

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