World's Fair

SciArt on the Bayou

The chair of the Theatre Dept. here at LSU and I have begun co-producing a new “SciArt Conversation Series” here at LSU — where we get scientists and artists on stage together at the same time for informal presentations of their work. We are trying to pick combinations that have some sort of real or semantic overlap. Our first one, which we just called “Silk”, had an entomologist talking about the evolution of spiders and spider silk along with a choreographer and two dancers demonstrating and explaining dance moves on hanging silks.


This first one had a small but very vocal and participatory audience – first they peppered the entomologist with a number of questions, then about a half-dozen of them got up to try a simple move on the hanging silks – to the great amusement of the rest of the audience. The whole presentation was fun and informal – the scientist and the choreographer convened for about 10 minutes beforehand and found perfect places to switch back and forth during the presentation – so a bit about spiders, then a few moves on the silks, then spiders, then silks – with the spider “talk” moving from evolutionarily older to more modern spiders, while the demonstrated silk dance moves went from simple to more complex and dangerous looking.

We plan to do this once a month here at LSU – the rest of this semester, then breaking for summer and starting up again when the school year starts – and see how it evolves and how well it catches on. Our second one – coming up in about a week, is called “String Theory” – we are going to have a string theorist in a staged debate with a loop gravity specialist, along with two musicians from a group called The Incense Merchants playing improvisational/experimental compositions on violin and cello. If you are in the Baton Rouge area, it will be March 31, at 7pm, in the Music and Dramatic Arts building, and it is free – just show up – both the physicists and the musicians have been asked to keep it accessible for a general audience.