Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


Hybrid Practices: Robert Hoveden Practice-Led Project: When art exceeds perception
  • Hybrid Practices: Robert Hoveden Practice-Led Project: When art exceeds perception
  • Lecture
  • 3/13/2015
  • 11:30-12:30
  • Spooner Hall
  • Host: Kress Foundation Department of Art History, Spencer Museum of Art, The Commons
Event Description
Robert Hovden: When Art Exceeds Perception
This project explores the implications of replication and plagiarism when copied works cannot be perceived by the human senses. Here, nanoscale replications of famous works of art are scribed onto the surface of a silicon crystal using a focused ion beam. The features in the replica are five hundred times smaller than the eye can resolve and five times smaller than the wavelength of light. When a work of art is copied, framed, and hung on a wall for public display but is not visible and cannot be interpreted, has something been taken from the original artist? Reproducing works of art at the nanoscale is accomplished by accelerating charged ions to high speeds and focusing them to a point on the substrate material. By scanning the ion beam in a defined pattern, the nanoscale world can be sculpted and etched with near-infinite variety. The material used in this project is high-purity crystalline silicon with an atomically smooth, flat surface. To take a piece of art, copy it, and share it with the world without the original artists’ permission is traditionally viewed as wrong and, in most cases, violates copyright laws. Such laws are intended to protect an artist’s financial interests and provide incentive to create. However, in a digital era where information is encrypted and stored in the atomic bits of nanoscale devices, answers to philosophical, moral, and legal questions surrounding copyright become muddled. This project focuses on tangible nanoscale art, not stored as bits, but rather existing as a directly interpretable image. Its representation is not digitized or encrypted. Its form is the same as the original, but too small to be perceived.