Visual artist Mark Hirsch named artist in residence at Fermilab 2021

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Mark Hirsch has been selected as artist in residence at Fermilab 2021-2022. Photo courtesy of Mark Hirsch

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory of the US Department of Energy has selected California visual artist Mark Hirsch as its 2021-2022 Artist-in-Residence. The program, now in its seventh year, links physics and art. Hirsch, who uses computer models and coding for his art, will draw on his background in data visualization to make the science of Fermilab more accessible and intriguing to the public.

In the past, he has also illustrated datasets in various disciplines including ecology and machine learning.

“The work I do can play a role in communication,” Hirsch said. “And one of the goals of this communication via data visualization is, hopefully, to broaden the conversation around some of these science concepts and bring in people who might not have the experience needed to see what scientists are working on. “

Hirsch started out as a composer, earning a master’s degree in music from Rice University before moving on to the visual arts. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Media Arts and Technologies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, working on generative, collaborative, technological, and visually interesting projects.

Collaboration is a big part of the art for Hirsch, who will begin his residency with discussions with scientists at Fermilab in a quest for interesting datasets. Hirsch says he’s particularly excited to explore research on what lies beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, the best theory scientists yet have to describe the building blocks of universe. The results of experiments such as Muon g-2 hinted at cracks in the Standard Model and the potential for new physics, including undiscovered particles or forces. Hirsch says he enjoys working with data that can have broad and provocative implications for a wide range of people.

“It’s much more interesting to connect with something that really matters to people – whether it’s working with environmentalists and climatologists, where there are big implications for the work they do, or working with physicists, where there are also these really big questions that we’re all grappling with, about our origin and our place in the universe, ”Hirsch said. “When the work is deep, when the data itself and the interactions or collaborations come from a really meaningful area, that’s what gets me excited. “

Georgia Schwender, Curator of the Fermilab Art Gallery and Founder of the Artist-in-Residence Program, said Hirsch’s experience at the intersection of art and science made her stand out as as a cutting edge artist.

“He sees the world in a very contemporary light,” Schwender said. “He really explores the ways in which coding and art can combine to convey complex subjects like science and math. I can’t wait to see how it transforms Fermilab data.

The Fermilab Artist-in-Residence program began in 2014. The 2020 Artist-in-Residence, multimedia duo Chris Klapper and Patrick Gallagher, will present their work in February 2022. Alongside Hirsch, Fermilab will also present its second guest composer, David Biedenbender.

Fermilab is supported by the Office of Science, US Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and works to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information visit science.energy.gov.


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