Speaker: Paolo Di Trapani
Title of Presentation:
Science and Art: Experiments on Light, from Dante Alighieri to Van Gogh
Experiments are described aimed at an indoor reconstruction of nature, e.g. reproducing spectacular optical atmospheric phenomena, in which light is diffused, diffracted or refracted by the air, the clouds, drops of rain, branches of a tree, etc. La mise en scene "simulates" reality, thoroughly imitating the laws, which, according to a scientist, act in nature. Using glass nanospheres for the reproduction of air, laser beams for sun rays, Plexiglas spheres and cylinders as drops of rain, adding trees, pergolas, underwater sceneries and waterfalls, in the hands of a scientist different rooms become the natural environment for a clear sky and storms, fog and rainbows, for the colors of the sky and shadows, a glimpse of the sun through a foliage and through the branches of a bare tree, during the eclipse or behind the shoulders of a mountain. The performance is a faithful reproduction of nature. Through a series of experiments, people are invited to have a glimpse of paintings, architecture, literature, photography, music and even cinema, weaving ambitious ties, suggesting original interpretations of masterpieces: why does Dante Alighieri speaks of reflection, when he describes his imitation of Beatrice looking at the sun? What do the circles and rays around Van Gogh's face in his self-portrait mean? Surprisingly, the newly gained familiarity with the phenomenon of "light” supported by the presented experiments, discloses an unexpected and deep link between art and our everyday experience of light.
Paolo is a physicist, professor of Optics at Insubria University in Como (IT), where he has developed a fs laser facility. During his career, he has performed research in the field of laser physics and ultrafast linear, nonlinear and quantum optics, contributing to the development of high power tunable femtosecond light sources and to the understanding of spatio-temporal spontaneous localization of light in non-linear media. He has founded VINO – the Virtual Institute for Nonlinear Optics, an international network of researchers sharing knowledge, funding, equipment and training actions. Author of 150 peer-review publications and 12 patents, he has been winner of a Marie Curie Chair at Vilnius University, and PI of more than 30 national and international research projects. He has launched and directed STELLA - the first School for Training in Experiments with Lasers and Laser Applications”, a 1 month, full-immersion, lab-based school where students from all over the world are trained by known leading specialists directly on top level research equipment. Paolo has also been active in educational activity, having developed the broad-audience science-and-art exhibition “Light in Light”. The show tackles the indoor reconstruction of spectacular atmospheric optical phenomena, underling deep but not trivial connections existing between science, art and our daily experience of the universe. In 2009 he has founded the start-up company CoeLux, which has transformed some of the exhibit results into turnkey products able to artificially reproduce the very experience of natural sky and sun light, indoor.