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SPIE Professional, July 2012

Graphene, Photonics, and Art

UK artist Elliott Burns explores the relationship between the structure of technology and the fluid process of creation in "Close-Up View of Graphene," featured on the cover of the July issue of the magazine.

Burns and his work were featured in a two-day workshop in Brussels in April that sought to to integrate art and science by kindling a conscious dialogue between the art and information and communication technology (ICT) communities.

Workshop promoters say that while ICT and science can create accurate representations of the world, works of art can provide unexpected representations and thus offer new insights into the way we order and understand our world.

Bringing artists and technologists together could stimulate novel solutions to societal challenges and new designs for ICT, according to the workshop program.

Indeed, graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms covalently bonded in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice, has leapt from the pages of physics journals to the pages of daily newspapers to the walls of art galleries and is expected to soon enter households in the form of electronic displays. Graphene's high thermal conductivity, strength, and lack of a natural bandgap are being explored for potential applications in touch screens, transparent conductors, and electro-optic modulators.

"Wonderful electrical, optical, and mechanical properties are being ascribed to graphene," says SPIE Fellow Akhlesh Lakhtakia, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nanophotonics.

"Its potential for nanoelectromechanical systems, complex electronic circuits, photo detectors, and ultrafast lasers has been demonstrated in laboratories worldwide," he says.

Art and the Internet 

In the art world, the proliferation of ICT has triggered new forms of artistic expression. Burns notes that video, installation art, and other new art forms have threatened the position of painting in the art world over the last century, and art has had to adapt.

"Already we can see how the Internet age has changed the language and linguistics of painting," Burns says. "As technology advances at an ever increasing rate, it will be interesting the see how painting develops to reflect this new reality."

Elliott Burns' graphene art

Graphene research offers the potential for a faster and more technologically integrated society, he says. "From an artistic perspective, this can be both exciting and daunting. With new means of production come new artistic possibilities.

"However, this brings with it new challenges and skills for artists to master," Burns says.

"In the next few generations we may see a paradigm shift in the fine arts, with computer-based art becoming more mainstream and prominent in galleries."

Burns is interested in collaborating with SPIE members involved in graphene research. Go to www.elliottburns.com.


Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

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DOI: 10.1117/2.4201207.42

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