Back in November 2009, I was contacted by a friend who wanted to know if I was interested in helping create a few posters for the Institute of Physics in the UK. The problem – one that the US shares – was that the hard sciences in general and physics in particular were seeing declining interest in the population of school children. Part of the problem, it was postulated, was that UK kids were not exposed to the interesting side of what physics is at a young enough age; by the time physics becomes a school course option, most kids have already relegated physics to the ‘boring’ category, and go on to pursue their degree in macrame interpretive dance. But even as an artist, I can say, this is not so! Physics is without a doubt one of the most far-thinking, philosophical fields out there; I’ve been a dilettante about the subject in general for years, and while I can’t claim to speak about it with anything approaching coherence, the fact that I could do anything for The Cause made me kinda pumped, something akin to what the Ghost Army must have felt when landing in France. (Was that too arrogant?)
Additionally, I had the great fortune to be able to work with Rich Seymour for the initial conception part of the project, which was great fun, and was inspiring to say the least. Meeting someone who has made a career for themselves by brooking no infringement on their creative vision and ideas, and sticking to their guns, even when it meant losing a job – that’s a kind of hard-assery that you can’t buy, you can just learn by spending years figuring out you’re the smartest mother-effer in the room.
As per Rich’s idea, we waded into some of the more far-out printing processes, ending up with two photo-luminescent posters, and one printed with thermal inks, that reveal ink underneath when one applies heat, with your hand or a flame-thrower or whatever. The design implications, challenges, and opportunities brought about using their rather esoteric printing techniques were eye-opening for me, and terrific fun.
The posters will be placed in classrooms all across the UK. In a few months, the impressional young eyes of UK youth will all be transfixed by this weirdness, which I feel pretty good about. I’m still in talks with the IOP people, trying to convince them to set up a purchase option for these posters, because I think a lot of nerds might be into these, but we’ll see. Don’t forget to click through the posters to see them full-size, via Flickr options.