In my art I call attention to “attention” as a complex, critical system. Without attention, we see nothing! In large part attention determines whether and how we respond to changes that are affecting all of us. Among these changes is global warming, its ramifications for biodiversity, and the inevitable upheavals and migrations in its wake.Can art change behavior? I respond to this question in my art -- hopefully, with a modicum of wit, nerve, and especially verve. I interleave charts and images of biological and cultural evolution (e.g., migration paths, astronautical manuals, genealogies), and I probe our access to the “commons”. For example, I juxtapose a vertical scroll of 200 years of weapon development with 200 years of funerary designs. They are proportioned like the Twin Towers. I often incorporate re-drafted patent drawings, generative processes applied to photographs, taxonomy charts, and plates from old encyclopedias. Via Patent Office citations, I animate images of unbridled capitalism, placing inventions in contexts that critique technological progress gained at the cost of avoiding environmental and socio-political imperatives. In recent years I have deployed augmented reality in short videos triggered by patented innovations.

Ellen K. Levy

My bio follows:

Ellen K. Levy is a visual artist living in NYC. Her practice encompasses experiential mixed-media installations, innovative forums, art and science curatorial projects, and writing in the interface between art, science, and technology. She is co-editor with Barbara Larson of the Routledge, Taylor & Francis “Science and Art since 1750” book series. She was President of the College Art Association (2004-2006) and was Special Advisor on the Arts and Sciences at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (2012-2017) after obtaining her doctorate on art and neuroscience (U of Plymouth, UK, 2012). She received her diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1981) following a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in Zoology. Her honors include an art commission from NASA (1985) and an AICA award (1995-1996). She was Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Arts and Sciences at Skidmore College (1999), a position funded by the Luce Foundation. She has conducted many courses and workshops and has taught at the New School, Brooklyn College and Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (all NYC). Her background includes both laboratory work and scientific illustration.

In her art, she often juxtaposes still representations and dynamic animations that together create unanticipated meanings. Levy has had numerous group and solo exhibitions, both in the US and abroad, including extensive installations at the New York Academy of Sciences (1984) and the National Academy of Sciences (1985). She has had solo exhibitions at the National Technical Museum in the Czech Republic and at the New Britain Museum of American Art in CT, and she was represented by Associated American Artists (57th St, NYC) and Michael Steinberg Fine Arts (Chelsea, NYC). Her work was included in Petrolania at the Second Moscow Biennale (cur. E. Sorokina, 2007), Weather Report: Art & Climate Change at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (cur. L. Lippard, 2007), and Gregor Mendel / Planting the Seeds of Genetics at the Field Museum, Chicago (cur. C. Albano, M. Wallace; adv. M. Kemp, 2000). In 2016 her work was exhibited at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery (Baruch College, NYC, 2016) in a two-person show with Patricia Olynyk called Some Provocations from Skeptical Inquirers (download catalog). Her site-specific installation, Meme Machines, was on view at the Mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library (2016- 2017, cur. A. Moseni). Much of her research involves interchanges with scientists and historians of science. Her work of the past eight years includes augmented reality and has been exibited in the US, Pertugal, Russia, Spain, and Austria.

Her publications are wide-ranging (e.g., Routledge Press, Bloomsbury Publications, Leonardo Journal, Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, PAJ). With B. Sichel she was guest editor of Art Journal's special issue, “Contemporary Art and the Genetic Code” (1996), the first widely-distributed, in-depth academic publication about genomics and art. The issue included text by S.J. Gould, R. Hoffmann, R. Root-Bernstein, M. Kemp, and D. Nelkin (Click for table of contents). She has also published widely on art in relation to complex systems, technological innovation, and perception. An ongoing influence is D'Arcy Thompson's pivotal 1917 publication, On Growth and Form. With Charissa N.Terranova, Levy co-edited and contributed to an anthology, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Forms, Bloomsbury Press (March 2021), ISBN 9781350191136.

Levy has participated in numerous panels and symposia, including Ars Electronica's LASER Gardens, Columbia University's Curiosity3 series, the Cornelia Street Café's Entertaining Science series (org. R. Hoffmann), and the DASER series at the National Academy of Sciences. She has lectured at Scripps institute (Jupiter, FL), Williams College, the Banff Centre, University of Hartford, UCLA, Drew University, Brooklyn College, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. Since 2009, she has co-directed the NYC LASER Series with Patricia Olynyk. Levy has moderated many panels on art and science, including at Location One (Panel 1 and Panel 2), ISEA, Siggraph, and at numerous conferences held by CAA, ISEA, and SLSA. Her keynote lectures include the Athens Technological Institute (TEI) and Seton Hall University (NJ). She was twice an invited participant in Watermill's Art and Consciousness workshop (2014, 2015), spearheaded by Robert Wilson. In 2021 she participated in Ars Electronica's LASER Garden panel and in 2022 in ISEA's exhibition program.

She curated From Forces to Forms, held at the new Pratt Manhattan Gallery (2022) in tandem with the Thompson anthology and a related essay published by the Woman's Art Journal. In curating this exhibition, she followed in the footsteps of pop artist Richard Hamilton. He was so taken with Thompson's 1917 book, On Growth and Form, that he curated a related show at the ICA in London in 1951. Levy was also curator of Sleuthing the Mind  (2014) at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, which featured artworks that explored some of the physical manifestations of cognitive processes. With Philip Galanter she co-curated Complexity held initially at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in 2002. The exhibition provided a first overview of artists's responses to complex systems. Levy is part of the core advisory team working on the Getty PST Project Future Tense: Art, Complexity, and Uncertainty.