For me outreach in science has mostly meant talking to schools kids. It is hard to gauge really how useful this is, but when I am talking about stuff that I find important and exciting, it is usually an easy thing to carry your audience. And I have gradually gained confidence – which definitely helps.
The world of artists?
But what about the weirder world of artists working with scientists? Or, as a somewhat more forthright colleague put it – trying to talk to bullsh*t merchants? That is perhaps a little unkind. But it really is true that it can take an awful long time to work out what they are trying to say.
Anyway, partly due to shifts in my workplace, but probably more due to everyone else (wisely?) running away at the critical moment, I have ended up spending quite a lot of time talking to artists about their various ideas for science related projects. Mostly the talk has not come to very much. The score so far is a mere one joint application (pending) for a small pot of funding (for the artist). But now it seems, after really quite a lot of coffee and cake, two artists genuinely seem to want to go ahead and make something. Woo! And without money from me (!).
These chaps have previously worked on the representation of biological and medical data using tactile-type 3D printed objects:
Now, our joint plan is to have a go at representing variability in sea ice growth using similar 3D printed representations of shell-like objects.
Yeah, possibly a little weird. But I actually think this is kinda cool. Their metal shells feel solidly weighty – and somehow reassuring. The current plan is that we will end up with a representation of (annual) North versus South sea ice growth. In shell form : -).
We also talked a fair a bit about how we might represent past sea ice fluctuations. But given recent sea ice fluctuations, it would seem a good idea to go with the more recent sea ice events for the first prototype.
And I really like the idea of being able to feel recent fluctuations in sea ice.