This guest post reflecting on the 2010-11 AiRs was written by Steven Zides. Steven has been a physics professor at Wofford College for the last 11 years. Over that time, he has investigated the interdisciplinary nature of scientific knowledge by participating in over a dozen learning communities with the English, Philosophy and Theater Departments. He has also developed a course on the interplay between physics and art culture through the use of scientific metaphor.
In honor of our recently departed Artists-in-Residence (Corinne, Ian, Kerri and Ron), I would like to reflect back on the AiR program and the wonderful experiences I have had with this outgoing group of talented individuals. When reminiscing in this manor, I always have to remind myself that the past is a place, other than the present, and as such is looked upon from an ever increasing distance in space-time. This is a fancy way of saying that I tend forget the factual portion of reality almost immediately; a quirk my wife is quick to point out…. or at least I think she usually does. Thus I tend to remember things more metaphorically than factually. In any case, when I recall all of the wonderful artists that HUB-BUB has hosted over the years the metaphor that comes to mind is that of the classical wave. In this metaphor, HUB-BUB is a vibrational artistic-energy source that exists in the medium we call Spartanburg, a medium that can transport waves more quickly than most of us would like to admit…if you know what I mean. At the beginning of each year, the source (HUB-BUB) changes its frequency and generates a new set of wave pulses (the artists). These wave pulses move through the medium carrying their energy to an ever widening sphere of influence. Although the waves eventually dissipate, the energy that they carried is distributed (microscopically) to every particle in the medium. So, although the artists eventually leave us, they tend to leave behind subtle internal changes in our community.
Although this wave metaphor fits my general impressions of the Artists-in-Residence program, when I think back to Corinne, Ian, Kerri and Ron, I find it really doesn’t fit at all; for instead of patterns of behavior, what I remember most were singular personal interactions. I remember Corinne filling in for Deno Trakas in our science fiction learning community, trying to get the students to understand how dinosaurs with quantum teleportation equipment might say something about the human experience. I remember Ron sawing wood, hammering nails, and hanging zip lines to transport bowling pins so that our class Rube Goldberg Machine had any chance of working correctly. I remember Kerri strolling along a 60 foot long plastic covered concrete floor, helping my students with the finer aspects of large-scale collage projects while they stuffed their faces with goodies from the Cakehead Bakeshop. I remember Ian, with his unobtrusive glasses, creating props and directing the students in a staged reading of Steve Martin’s play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Looked at from this point of view, the departing artists seem highly individualistic, leaving singular impacts on my memory… more like particles. This realization hits me like a ton of feathers; Ron, Ian, Corinne and Kerri are not classical waves, but rather they are quantum wavicles, anthropomorphic embodiments of the particle/wave duality. I am amazed that it took me so long to deduce this obvious fact… all the signs have been in front of me all along. Kerri always seemed be entangled in her work, Ron was always tunneling out of something, Corrine had a high probability of being in the coffee shop and the bookstore at the same time and it was almost impossible to keep Ian in a box, dead or alive.
Kerri, Ron, Ian and Corinne, I wish you all the best.