Encountering the Unseen was organized by Isla Hansen and Tucker Marder. Initiated in September of 2014, Isla and Tucker began planning this event by reaching out to local experts, doctors, professors, and graduate students whose work and studies focused on aspects of Microbiology. The artists asked these microbiologists to provide them with a plan for a ten to fifteen minute lecture, sans images or visualizations, on the subject matter of their work or their interests in microbiology. Artists were paired with speakers in order to provide the visual and performative accompaniment to these lectures. Together, Isla, Tucker, and their collaborators planned simple kinetic sculpture, puppetry, and performance, to attempt to physically manifest the ideas, scientific processes, and phenomena being discussed by each speaker. The works of these artists was intended to activate new ways to visualize information, replacing the standard powerpoint presentation, and bring microorganisms to life on a much larger scale.
Encountering the Unseen was supported by a microgrant from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier (FRFAF)— an endowment founded to encourage the creation of innovative artworks by the faculty, students and staff of Carnegie Mellon University. With this fund, the STUDIO seeks to develop a cache of groundbreaking projects created at CMU — works that can be described as “thinking at the edges” of the intersection of disciplines.