Skip to Content

Curious Vault Collaborations 002

Rob Goyanes

Image courtesy of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

It seems flight is on Miami’s mind: there’s the history of flight in our summer issue, last night’s Curious Vault Collaboration detailed below, and Michael Namkung’s upcoming show Flying Towards the Ground at Locust Projects in August. Something in the air, perhaps?

Hundreds gathered at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science to experience the second Curious Vault Collaboration, the project whereby artists work with the museum’s collection to create a piece that bridges art and science. For this collaboration, sculptor and Miami native Robert Chambers worked with Dr. GeCheng Zha, University of Miami professor and director of the Aerodynamics and Computational Fluid Dynamics Lab.

They created a multi-tiered cabinet installation that explores the evolution of flight: on the bottom, representing the beginning, there was an egg, feathered dinosaur, and duck-billed platypus for cheeky effect. In the middle: taxidermy birds, a flying squirrel, a signed print by aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky, and a screen showing F-16s and other flying machines. On top of the installation sits an alien aerodynamic shape, resembling future wings or radar.

Photo courtesy of Barron Sherer Photo courtesy of Barron Sherer

The planetarium had whirling projections care of Science Art Cinema, the project headed by the museum’s Collections Manager/ Keeper of the Vault Kevin Arrow. Lasers and satellites flitted across the dome’s walls, as DJ Le Spam and Lance Vertok played ambient bleeps, bloops, and whooshes of the universe. Spaceleggers, courtesy of mobile library Bookleggers, offered space-themed and science-fiction books.

During the talk between the collaborators, Arrow mentioned the reason for the coming together of these disciplines: scientists inspire artists, artists inspire questions, and questions inspire scientists. Chambers discussed the fact that Marcel Duchamp was one of the first to use the idea of rotors, and Daniel Espinal (a fellow scientist at UM standing in for GeCheng) spoke of the importance of computational fluid dynamics–that you can analyze conceptual things without performing experiments with objects themselves.

Events such as this are reminders that disciplines are at their best when their boundaries are transgressed. I thought about this as I stood in line for the Gramps-provided fluids, watching the attendees surround the Shake Shack waiters and their trays of hamburgers, like birds of prey.