A team of Victoria University engineers and scientists who embrace their geekiness with the name ‘Skunk Control’ are quickly proving that science and art can combine into award-winning creations.
Skunk Control have rapidly gained overseas attention as artists since they formed in 2012 as enthusiastic science educators and their students. They have recently been commissioned to exhibit at several Melbourne festivals, and received invitations from as far away as New Zealand and Portugal to show their work.
Last year, the group took out the People’s Choice award at the annual Gertrude Street Projection Festival, one of Melbourne’s most creative outdoor events. Its winning piece, Pestilent Protrusions, was built into a shopfront and featured a psychedelic array of animatronically blooming flowers.
Skunk Control founder Nick Athanasiou of VU’s College of Engineering and Science says that while many think science and art are polar opposites, both ask the big questions.
“A scientist’s lab is not very different than an artist’s studio for searching, thinking, creating and doing,” he says.
Their creations – with haunting names such as Luminous Intervention and Prevaricated Frequencies – include a roomful of singing toast that communicates principles of electromagnetism; columns of explosive soap bubbles to show combustion reactions and thermochemistry; and fields of colour-changing flowers to illustrate optical properties, or birefringence.
Skunk Control will exhibit the following works locally and internationally in 2015.
- Luminous Intervention – Light in Winter Festival – Federation Square. Melbourne. 1-19 June.
- Prevaricated Frequencies – Campbell Arcade (Flinders Street Station), Melbourne. 24 June-19 July.
- Secluded Evolution – Gertrude Street Projection Festival. Fitzroy. 10-19 July.
- Pestilent Protrusions – LUX Light Festival, Wellington, New Zealand. 21-30 August.
- Pestilent Protrusions – LUMINA Light Festival, Cascais, Portugal. 11-13 September.
- The Oscillator – Big West Festival. Western Melbourne. 20-28 November.
Skunk Control also runs a number of community outreach programs such as Professor Science Troupe designed to demystify science.
Photos of Skunk Control art-science installations are available.
Nick Athanasiou is available for interview.