All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed towards ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom’, wrote the great scientist Albert Einstein in Out of My Later Years’. The book is a collection of his words and essays, in which are reflections on aspects beyond science, including the fascinating connect between art and science.
At the 106th Indian Science Congress that was held at Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Phagwara, Punjab, last week, visitors were further introduced to the idea when they saw 3D sculptures of Albert Einstein and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, on campus. Einstein and Kalam, sitting on two benches outside the administration block, attracted almost every visitor especially children, who posed for photographs.
Behind these two works created by faculty and students of the Department of Fine Arts of LPU was the strong hand of science. As great biochemist and writer Isaac Asimov said, “There is an art to science, and science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.”
Manavpreet Kaur Arora, Assistant Professor and Head of Fine Arts Department, LPU, says that art and science cannot be separated from each other for both involve logic, exploration, processes, methodology, exploration and finally implementation of an idea. “So, with our university hosting the country’s largest scientists meet, our fine arts students and faculty also contributed to it in their way. The process behind creating the statues of Kalam and Einstein was scientific and involved technical processes to make them look real,” says Arora.
Since both Kalam and Einstein were not very tall, the sculptures were created in a way that when other tall people share the bench with them for a photograph, the personalities of the scientists were not suppressed. A process of scaling, explains Arora, ensured correct measurements. A number of photographs were referenced to see that even minute details such as the direction of strands of hair and distance between the eyes were correct.
While their faces were made separately using clay and given a finishing touch later, the torsos were made taking plaster moulds after applying these on live models.
“Two people with similar physiques of Kalam and Einstein were made to sit for five to six hours and plaster was applied all over to prepare moulds. After taking moulds of different body parts, it was all assembled. Faces made separately were kept bigger in size to ensure the right proportion, ratio and visibility,” says Arjun K Singh, a faculty member.
Another scientific technique used in preparing these sculptures was that of ‘patination’. “To achieve a metallic look on fibre, we used patination which involves certain chemical reactions involving colours to create a monochrome affect,” says Singh. The group of students and three faculty members, who worked on the sculptures, completed the work in a month’s time. The materials used included fibre, clay, plaster and other chemicals and colours to achieve a metallic look on fibre.
“Had we made it a colourful one, we wouldn’t have been able to get a 3D effect. The idea was to make people feel that actually Kalam and Einstein were sitting there, in their most natural look,” says Singh.
The students of the department designed all publicity material and newsletter for the meet and also had a stall at the Indian Science Congress, showcasing scientific works with an artistic philosophy. Ravinder Singh, a second-year student of Master’s in Fine Arts, created pen-and-ink paintings based on the phenomena of the fluttering of the eye, where the eyelid twitching causes stress and fatigue. Singh created those patterns which are usually seen in front of eyes when we suddenly move indoors from the bright, sunny outdoors.
Another student Narind Walia created a hyper-realistic portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in charcoal and oil. The art work was gifted to the PM at the inauguration ceremony and a magnifying glass was used to observe finer details of his features in photographs to create the work. Rajwinder Kaur, using everyday household items such as the chakla belan presented a concept of time and repetitive movement in daily life. Nine sets of chakla belan were fixed on a board and rotated in circular motion using a motor.
Ultimately, the five-day conference saw a coming together of art, science and technique in rather innovative ways.