Laura Splan: A Guided Sublimation

On Saturday, October 21, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will premiere A Guided Sublimation, a media arts experience developed by transdisciplinary artist Laura Splan in collaboration with the theoretical biophysicist Adam Lamson.

A twenty-five-minute full-dome artwork, A Guided Sublimation explores the connections between the natural world and the built environment through a reflection on biotechnics and the language of scientific representation. In exploring these themes, Splan draws inspiration from emerging research in epigenetics, or the study of environmental influences over gene expression, as part of her examination of the relationships that exist between processes that are invisible and objects that lay in plain sight.

Splan and her collaborators use a range of technical, scientific, and aesthetic strategies to give expression to this conceptually challenging but ubiquitous condition of contemporary society. In an immersive media environment, she allows the mirrored surfaces of 3D molecular models to reflect AI-generated landscapes built from carefully chosen scientific prompts. Splan selects these prompts from clinical source material—publications on the effects of trauma, climate change, and other external factors on public health—to invite viewers to a meditation on the microcosmic space and dramas of the human body. In doing so, Splan creates a moving multimedia experience that reveals how, at the most minute level, we are at once biological and technological, autonomous from and deeply entangled with the wider world.

A Guided Sublimation is the latest artwork to play with the unique technical parameters of the planetarium and its full-dome projection system. By participating in the logic of a machine that is equally appropriate for science communication and musical light shows, Splan’s daring artwork establishes the conditions for an engagement with phenomena that are otherwise beyond direct experience.

About Laura Splan: Laura Splan is a transdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of science, technology, and culture. Her research-driven projects connect hidden artifacts of biotechnology with everyday life through embodied interactions and sensory engagement. Her work has appeared at the Museum of Arts and Design, Pioneer Works, and the New York Hall of Science, and is represented in the collections of the Thoma Art Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, NYU Langone’s Art Collection, and the Berkeley Art Museum.

The Vanderbilt Museum’s commission of A Guided Sublimation is the organization’s latest effort to bring world-class scholars, authors, and artists to Suffolk County’s first public park and museum. As an organization dedicated to the education and enjoyment of the people of Long Island, the commission of a new work by Laura Splan reflects the Vanderbilt Museum’s commitment to making innovative and thought-provoking culture accessible for everyone, regardless of location, background, or life experience.

Additional support for A Guided Sublimation is made possible by the Simons Foundation, NEW INC at the New Museum, Beall Center for Art+Technology, Wave Farm Media Arts Assistance Fund, New York Council on the Arts, and the Rochester Community Foundation.