Artists: Pamela I. Theodotou (United States) & Dr. Rhea Waldman (Germany)
Music By FBK.
Pterodynamica (wing movement) is a video projection installation (floor, wall or ceiling), or theatrical screening (Whichever is preferred by the host gallery/institution and a version of this video can be provided to include originally composed music) of a series of videos arranged in reflective symmetrical planes. The smooth flowing mandala-like images are reminiscent of old world kaleidoscopes that reflected light from brass and cut glass, but in Pterodynamica we see an organic version, ebbing and pulsing like its organic source, and emulating the heartbeat of our natural world. The original source video was collected in research studies of the aeromechanics of bats in flight. Bats are the second most diverse order of mammals on the earth and their flight abilities unparalleled. Through their graceful movements, one is pulled into their graceful floating world through this seductively meditative media.
The video images are a part of a larger project including (currently under development):
1. Static hanging sculpture of 3D sculpted representations of the aerial footprint created by bats in flight.
2. Kinetic sculpture that is a 3D version of the video symmetries.
3. Indoor and outdoor large building video projection of the video installation coordinated with original music.
4. Framed layered transparent positive film photography.
The original video is source data gathered by Dr. Rhea Waldman (Currently at Iowa State University) during her doctoral research at the Animal Flight Lab at Lund University (Sweden) under the guidance of Dr. Anders Hedenström and Dr. York Winter (NeuroCure Center of Excellence and Humboldt University Berlin, Germany). In August of 2015, during the 100th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America Dr. Waldman attended a workshop where Artist/Filmmaker and Biologist Pamela I Theodotou was a guest speaker presenting information on art and science collaborations. They decided to collaborate on producing an artistic reflection of Dr. Waldman’s work with bats. The partnership developed into a multi disciplinary project to showcase flight mechanics through artistic expression with the goal of heightening public awareness of not only the amazing flight abilities of these animals but also to bring attention to other tangential conservation and protection dialogues for this, highly endangered, but also one of the most species rich mammal on earth.
Art and science are remarkably similar. Scientists and artists both engage in detailed observation, investigation, and development of processes to inform a final result. In that similarity, professionals in both fields are highly suited to join together and produce something completely unique that, without the other, is not possible. It also allows scientists to bring their work, and the information learned about our natural world, to the public in a different way than purely academic communication, which has a limited reach. By visualizing science and presenting in an interactive form that challenges the viewer to see science as a tangible manifestation of something real, we can open a dialogue for understanding and appreciation for the natural world and the professionals who engage it.
Scientist in the interdisciplinary realm of biomechanics and aerodynamics strive to understand the interplay of morphology, function, and physics of flight. The morphology of an organism is tightly linked to its function, which can be explained by physical forces.
Bats are the only mammals that evolved flapping flight. By understanding the mechanics and aerodynamics of bat flight and comparing them to flight in birds and insects, we can not only help interpret the evolution of flight, but also inform cutting-edge research and development of small aircraft in aerospace engineering.
Bats are aerial acrobats. Their level of maneuverability is remarkable and has captivated the interest of researchers for decades. The fact that bats are nocturnal and have very high wing beat frequencies has made research on these animals challenging and has delayed scientific progress compared to bird flight. The utilization of behavioral training and wind tunnels allow for a more controlled environment to observe bats and high-speed videography enables researchers to investigate the intricate motion of bat wings in flight. The three dimensional kinematics of bat wings can be reconstructed with video material from two or more synchronized high-speed cameras via marker tracking techniques. The video footage used in this project was captured for this purpose.
This research was conducted at the Animal Flight Lab at Lund University, Sweden and was supported by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), the Swedish Institute, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and, the Swedish Research Council.
All images and material is protected by copyright, Rhea Waldman and Pamela I Theodotou, Music by FBK, 2015, All rights reserved.
EXPERIMENTAL SHORT FILM
LEAVING: An experimental short film depicting the grace of nature. A single leaf, suspended by a spider's silk thread dances in the wind.
TRIPTIC AIR: An experimental short film captured by IPhone during a flight on a prop plane.
THE HERO BODY
The hero body is a series of life size figurative sculptures based on classical histories. The body is to be represented by formed wire (in process) and the armor is of large ceramic pieces (see actual pieces in the graphic to the left). The work is fragmented as though it has been rediscovered as a relic from antiquity.
The first piece, Ἀχιλλεύς, Akhilleus, pronounced [akʰilːéu̯s]) represents the Greek hero of the Trojan War and the central character and greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad. The first two lines of the Iliad read:
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί' Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε' ἔθηκεν,
Sing, Goddess, of the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
the accursed rage that brought great suffering to the Achaeans.
Achilles' consuming rage is at times wavering, but at other times he cannot be cooled. The humanization of Achilles by the events of the war is an important theme of the narrative. Achilles' name can be analyzed as a combination of ἄχος (akhos) "grief" and λαός (laos) "a people, tribe, nation." In other words, Achilles is an embodiment of the grief of the people. When Achilles was born Thetis, his mother, tried to make him immortal, by dipping him in the river Styx. However, he was left vulnerable at the part of the body by which she held him, his heel. Although the death of Achilles is not presented in the Iliad, other sources concur that he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, who shot him in the heel with an arrow.
Achilles' armor was the object of a feud between Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax (Ajax the greater). They competed for it by giving speeches on why they were the bravest after Achilles to their Trojan prisoners, who after considering both men came to a consensus in favor of Odysseus.