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Projects

STEAMplant supports the creation of interdisciplinary projects; these projects range from art installations that showcase science research and principles in mathematics, to research studies which use the tools of STEM disciplines to investigate the creation of art and architecture. Each project culminates in a public engagement event, installation, product, or publication. Below is a list of our currently funded and completed projects.

To learn more about what types of projects we fund, email steamplant@pratt.edu.

Speculating the Environment

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Claire Donato & Audrey Massmann

Perhaps the greatest appeal of science is its promise to predict the future. However, deterministic predictions cannot encompass the ecologies that will develop under accelerating crises of migration.  Although there is scientific consensus that ecologies are changing and will continue to change, the nature of far-future changes are too complex to assess statistically.  When the realm of probabilities gives way to the realm of possibilities, we speculate. “Speculating the Environment” explores the interface between environmental prediction and speculation via a year-long cross-disciplinary workshop and talk series. 

Urban Decay: Construction and Degradation

Sirovich Family Student Scholars – Brian Ching & Marley Olson

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Cathryn Dwyre-Perry, Melissa Boo & Audrey Massmann

Mycelium, soil, and moss networks mimic how humans develop their cities and interact with their environment; Tokyo subway maps land on a path similar to how mycelium travels and spreads, proving its efficiency. The project “Urban Decay: Construction and Degradation” aims to serve the residents of Brooklyn using architecture and art to represent the complex scientific performance of these natural mysteries in relation to our local environment. Specifically, we will be creating modulated terrarium planters that can be inserted into a public green space, apartment interiors, or building facades as urban park interventions.

Sensory Cookbook for a Warming Climate

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Cindie Kehlet & Jean Brennan

STEAMplant Professional Collaborator – Sarah Elisabeth

What might the future smell and look like? We will use the form of a cookbook to invite multi-sensory appreciation for the plants that will likely thrive in a future landscape. This recipe book, however, is not a chef’s text, but rather one produced by an artist, an herbalist, and a chemist. Our research is focused on developing recipes for extracting scent and color from a select group of adaptable plant species predicted to do well in a warming climate.

Weaving Threads: Natural Dyes at the Intersection of Art & Science

Sirovich Family Student Scholar – Ana Codorean

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Heather Lewis, Gina Gregorio, Cindie Kehlet & Christopher X J Jensen

This project is a collaboration between the Textile Dye Garden at Pratt Institute and Brooklyn’s PS 270. Through a unit on natural dyes, students will engage in artistic use of sustainable materials rooted in studies of ecology, botany, and chemistry. Long-term goals aim to build a strong foundation for ecological thinking as students learn the benefits of low-impact materials for the arts. Additionally, we plan to create an open-source curriculum that authentically intertwines chemistry, biology, botany, environmental sustainability, and textiles in a way that highlights the connections between these subject areas and integrates all aspects of learning.

The Hidden Story

Sirovich Family Resident – Arianna Zuanazzi & Yashaswini Raghunandan

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Alex Noyes

The Hidden Story tells a story that is not visible, but is narrated through speech and sounds and by making the process of film creation explicit. The audience enters a cinematic space where they participate in an interactive sensory experiment. In this science/art project, we use the medium of the film to offer immediate realizations of scientific knowledge and we forge the cinematic language of images and sounds through perspectives and angles that belong to the world of science. Together with the audience, we want to reflect on how the brain uses and combines different sources of information to interpret the story or to create a new story. 

The Cloud in the Ocean

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Melissa Dubbin & Aaron Davidson

STEAMplant Professional Collaborator – Dr. Shuichi Wakimoto

“The Cloud in the Ocean” builds upon our material studies in silica through custom glass objects based on delay lines, simulated virtual environments, and soft robots combined with natural materials such as metal, wood, cork and precious stones and metals, animated by the transport of water and air. 

Rewire

Sirovich Family Resident – Kay Mittal

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Daniel Wright, Robert Zakarian, HyukJae Henry Yoo

Rewire explores mental health challenges in modern society seen in a fast-paced urban lifestyle. The recent pandemic and the onset of an unstable geopoltical environment in Asia and Europe has reminded people of how volatile circumstances can be. This along with an array of preexisting psychological disorders has led to the growing need to adapt to the feeling of uncertainty, and to become efficient at managing an individual’s particular set of conditions. Innovators across the United States are experimenting with different design approaches to arrive at their proposed solutions. The primary goal of Rewire is to study human responses to external stimuli in the context of these disorders. Any created prototypes would be examples of potential solutions with a speculative nature to start a larger academic discussion on the subject. The creations would be representations of the research, adding to the bodies of knowledge in design, science and psychology. 

100 Clapping Machines

Sirovich Family Resident – Taylor Levy

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Helio Takai & Che-Wei Wang

100 Clapping Machines is an indoor installation of hundreds of individual clapping machines that explores the beauty of and the science of sync.

Luminous Computing

Sirovich Family Student Scholar – Elliot Lovegrove

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Helio Takai & Andrew Freiband

Electronic computing is woven through many of our everyday activities. Yet for most users, the underlying mechanisms and processes remain opaque and mysterious, the province of a privileged few. In this project, we render the basic building blocks of code and electronic logic in a form that is both concrete and aesthetic, scaled and designed for human understanding.

(In)Coherence: The Variable Edges Between Us And World

Sirovich Family Residents – Mary Jo Vath & Iliyan Ivanov

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Ágnes Mócsy & Ellen Berkovitch

Brain meets world. Neuroscience chats with art. We mean for this podcast to trail the phosphorescent nets that capture the shared preoccupations of neuroscience and art. What do we really know about the hard problem of consciousness? And how does what has been learned about the brain overlap with what remains unknown: the mysteries of violence, beauty, sublimity, human sentience? Where is the edge between me and world? What do some of the world’s leading neuroscientists say about what they go to work for?

We gather as an interdisciplinary team of a writer, a painter, a physicist and a neuroscientist. The idea was for artists to ask questions about how neuroscience sees what it sees, and knows what it knows, and what we all can learn about the promise and challenge of asking better questions.

From Forces To Forms Lab

Sirovich Family Resident – Ellen K. Levy

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Mark Rosin & Nick Battis

“From Forces to Forms” (Lab) was a series of events in the spring of 2022 based on the eponymous exhibition at Pratt’s Manhattan Gallery. Curated by STEAMplant resident Ellen K. Levy, these events acted to engage students and the wider public in conversations about the nature of form, and the universal principles of organismic development.

The Unforeseen

film projector depiction of woman walking on NYC highline pedway, with woman watching projectioj

Sirovich Family Resident – Pamela Breda

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Ágnes Mócsy & Ira Livingston

The Unforeseen is an art research project which analyzes our role as human beings within the universe at large, exploring the Simulation Hypothesis through a two-channel video installation.

Core of Me: A Hike-Play

Sirovich Family Resident – Jeremy Pickard

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Christopher X. J. Jensen & Jennifer Telesca

Core of Me: A Hike-Play is a literal journey through trees, in which an audience experiences a performance while guided on a hike through the woods. Inspired by ecological, anthropological, and indigenous perspectives on climate change, Core of Me explores a moment in the short life of an anxious human and the long life of a forest, both attempting to come to terms with our new, turbulent reality.

Breath Consciousness

Sirovich Family Residents – Jasmine Grace & Ayodamola Okunseinde

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Charles Rubenstein & Che-Wei Wang

Artist Jasmine Grace’s residency collaboration with designer/architect/artist Che-Wei Wang, electrical engineer and Professor, Dr. Charles Rubenstein, and creative technologist Ayodamola Okunseinde is an interactive, public art installation that will translate peoples breath into a multi-sensory experience using light, sound and movement. As participants blow into a sensor, a visual and musical symphony will be created through a large scale luminous pinwheel, enabling people to not only feel, but also see and hear the effects of their breath in the moment.

Light, Color, and Science: Licio Isolani Sculptures from the 1960s

Sirovich Family Resident – Renato Miracco

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Eleonora Del Federico & Lisa A. Banner

STEAMplant Professional Collaborators – Sarah Nunberg

Licio Isolani was an Italian-borne sculptor, a long-time associate professor at Pratt Institute, and a pioneer in cross-disciplinary art as a member of the 1960s group Experiments in Art and Technology (founded by Robert Rauschenberg and engineer Billy Kluver of Bell Labs). Collaborating with Dr. Renato Miracco (an international expert on 20th century Italian art), Pratt Institute art historian and curator Dr. Lisa Banner, chemist Eleonora Del Federico, and conservator Sarah Nunberg will analyze the contents of Isolani’s notebooks and artworks through the lens of analytical instrumentation such as X-ray fluorescence and infrared spectroscopy.

Song Searching

drawn art of water waves

Sirovich Family Student Scholar – Ami Cai

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Christopher X. J. Jensen, Basem Aly & Jennifer Telesca

Humpback whales are some of nature’s most majestic creatures. These immense marine mammals undertake epic annual migrations, feed cooperatively, form local cultures, and interact socially using songs transmitted over thousands of kilometers. What would it feel like to be a humpback whale experiencing today’s increasingly human-dominated world? Song Searching is a video game designed to give players the experience of being a humpback whale.

Higgins Hall Thermal Comfort Study

Sirovich Family Student Scholar – Nathan Bataille

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Gabrielle Brainard, Cristobal Correa, Jessie Braden & Daniel Wright

How are you feeling right now? Are you too hot? Too cold? How does the environment and your physiology affect your experience of a building? To answer these questions, Architecture Professors Gabrielle Brainard and Cristobal Correa installed a network of temperature and humidity sensors in a studio in Pratt’s Higgins Hall.

Metric Units for the Solar System

Sirovich Family Resident – Sara Morawetz

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Mark Rosin & Joseph Morris

Metric Units for the Solar System is an exploration of our relationship with the systems of ‘standardized units’ we have created to order society; examining the various tensions implicit in the function, perception and ultimately arbitrary construction of such formalisms. Extrapolating the original rationale for our own system of metric units, a new set of ‘natural measures’ will be constructed for each planetary body in our solar system.

Space Within Spaces

depiction of string lights, in front of brick wall

Sirovich Family Resident – Joseph Morris

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Ágnes Mócsy & Che-Wei Wang

Joseph Morris’s STEAMplant residency collaboration with theoretical nuclear physicist Professor Ágnes Mócsy and designer/architect/artist Che-Wei Wang is an outdoor, public art installation that will interact with incoming cosmic rays. Using muon particle detectors, which sense the effect of interstellar cosmic rays, the sensors will be mounted on the rooftop of Pratt Institute’s Juliana Curran Terian Design Center detecting stellar rays.

Licio Isolani Study Archive

Sirovich Family Student Scholar – Miriam Clayton

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Cindie Kehlet & Lisa A. Banner

STEAMplant Professional Collaborator – Sarah Nunberg

Italian artist and former Pratt Professor Licio Isolani (1931-2015) donated a collection of his work to the Department of Mathematics and Science before he passed away in 2015. This bequest was celebrated with the exhibition “A Strange Road of Materials” showcasing Isolani’s early sculptures and paintings. The Licio Isolani Study Archive at Pratt Institute was founded by Chair of the Math and Science Department Dr. Carole Sirovich and faculty member Dr. Cindie Kehlet, along with Dr. Lisa A. Banner, of the History of Art & Design Department, and Pratt’s Stockman Fellow Conservator Sarah Nunberg.

Poetics of Our Universe

Sirovich Family Graduate Fellow – Adriana Green

STEAMplant Faculty Members – Ariel Goldberg, Daniel Wright & Christopher X. J. Jensen

In 2015, Adriana Green began developing a poetic manuscript excavating her personal history alongside institutional archival information about America’s reliance on the Atlantic slave trade. Her work asked the questions: As Black Americans, how can we engage with our history when that history is obscured or lost? What are the elements of an hauntological pedagogy? Can silence act as a language? As a writer, Green is interested in how knowledge is translated into language. Specifically, how do we talk about the unknown? Through epistemological conversations with physicist, Dan Wright, she further explored what it means to put language around dense, astronomical concepts, such as black holes. By examining the parallels in how we wrestle dense concepts into language, Green explores how language holds complex and traumatic histories. Her project also interrogated he realm of photography and she worked with artist and scholar, Ariel Goldberg, in discussing the role of photography in archival representations of the Black community. Asking, How does photography works as both a static and dynamic record of the past? What would it mean to trouble the notions of objectivity and subjectivity in an image?