Recap: Part I, Part II, Part II and a half
What's the difference between an artist and an engineer? Three weeks ago, I could have given you an answer. Now, I'm not so sure.
When we began this whole process, I imagined our engineers learning a few new skills, discovering some artistic urges and perhaps, if we were lucky, producing something they'd be happy to display at the end of it. But I never imagined the outpouring of creative energies we've seen in the last few weeks. However much it might have started out as a bit of fun, it's turned into something far more meaningful, for everyone involved.
Today I saw engineers and artists working side by side to complete some extraordinary pieces of art. And the only person wielding a tape measure was street artist Dan Petley. Tasked by his "students" to portray Steve Jobs disguised as Isambard Kingdom Brunel - to complete the left-hand side of their wall painting - the self-confessed "control freak" neatly divided up Jobs's image on a piece of paper and scaled it up on the wall with millimetre precision. Meanwhile, on the right hand side of the wall, four engineers were mapping out their design on a flipchart before transferring it onto the bricks. Same principle really, although if anything the engineers were less precise.
Elsewhere in the University grounds, artist Richard Andersen had formed a partnership with engineer Liam Boyd and embarked on an experiment in the art of high dynamic range (HDR) photography. This was a masterclass for Liam, but also a learning curve for Richard - a chance to try out a technique he hadn't really explored previously. When the two returned at 4pm to show off their results, there were quite literally gasps of amazement. It's difficult to explain how seven shots of the engineering department stairwell can combine to produce one stunning image, but somehow they managed it. (I'll post the final images later, or you should be able to see them at the Discover exhibition in a few days' time).
One thing I liked about this particular partnership is that it represented perfectly the mutual respect that has been born during this project. One artist, one engineer, working in equal partnership to produce something beautiful. And this wasn't beauty snapped in a single frame; it was beauty engineered from a dirty old stair well, through hard work and some pretty sophisticated technical jiggery pokery.
Anyway, it's getting late and one post is not enough to explain everything that happened today. I haven't even touched on the animation, but I'll save that till the results have been uploaded to t'internet.
I guess the point I've been trying to make is that we shouldn't be so quick to draw lines between different disciplines. We can call ourselves artists or engineers, or science communicators for that matter, and we can inhabit those roles and believe that we own them. But we don't.