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Sliding Scale:Gail Wight exhibition

By Rhizome

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 16 2006
Lisa Vestal, Publicist 650-725-3107, lvestal@stanford.edu
DIGITAL IMAGES AVAILABLE

Sliding Scale: Gail Wight

Stanford, CA-The Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University is pleased to present Sliding Scale: Gail Wight, an exhibition that opens November 7, on view through December 10, 2006 at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery where a reception will take place on November 10 with honored guest, Gail Wight.

When conducting an experiment a scientist should always control as many variables as possible, reducing the object of the investigation to the one aspect she is seeking to understand. This insight has been the great strength of the scientific method; it has allowed enormous increases in our understanding of the world through the summation of millions of tiny investigations. As we have become increasingly aware in the last fifty years, however, conducting research at such a level of abstraction is also science’s most dangerous weakness. In “Sliding Scale,” Gail Wight’s art playfully resists the dematerialization of the objects of scientific investigation. Mice eat through a representation of their genome, butterflies struggle to escape their pins, and beetles tell their stories.

Wight’s art simultaneously takes on the two great flaws of abstract scientific thinking—oversimplification and loss of perspective. In Crossing a live mouse plays with a robotic one, and the viewer is left marveling at the incredible complexity of the living being. Recursive Mutations gives a muse the chance to redesign it own genome through its interaction with the paper it lived on. With humor, “Sliding Scale” asks the viewer what has been lost in abstracting a mouse to its genes or to a mechanical prototype that replicates only some of its functions. As viewers zoom in and out with The Meaning of Miniscule they find that where they end up is not where they began. And Kings Play Cards reminds us all that no field, including science, is exempt from the lure of the hot new thing or the enticement of corporate dollars. Wight’s art prompts viewers to see the objects of scientific research and the larger field of science in a new and different light.

Through “Sliding Scale” Gail Wight will be adding her voice to the conference, "Imaging Environment: Maps, Models, Metaphors," November 8-10 at the Stanford Humanities Center, which brings together scholars from the sciences and the humanities to consider how the environment shapes how we study and use it.

VISITOR INFORMATION: Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 am – 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 pm. Admission is free. The Gallery
is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at 435 Lasuen Mall. Parking is free after 4 pm and all day on weekends. Information: 650-723-3404, www.art.stanford.edu

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