Artist:  Robert Hovden (Applied Physics)

Dates:  Oct 30, 2014 - Dec 15, 2014

Installation Location: Jill Stuart Gallery, Human Ecology Building

Hours of accessibility: 9 AM - 5 PM

When Art Exceeds Perception explores the implications of replication and plagiarism by reproducing famous works of art inscribed onto the surface of a silicon crystal wafer at 500x smaller than the eye can see and 5x smaller than the wavelength of light.

The art was inscribed by accelerating charged ions to high-speeds and focusing them on the silicon wafer. By scanning an ion beam in an image pattern, molecules on the wafer surface were sculpted and etched like clay. The material sculpted at this scale is high-purity, crystalline silicon with an atomically smooth, flat surface. This is the same silicon medium used in modern digital devices for transistors and provides an exceptional medium for physical manipulation and design. 

In a digital era where information is encrypted and stored in the atomic bits of nanoscale devices, answers to philosophical, moral, and legal questions surrounding artistic ownership and copyright become muddled. When Art Exceeds Perception focuses on this issue through the creation of tangible, if immediately inaccessible, art — not stored as bits, but rather as an indirectly interpretable image. Its final representation is not digitized or encrypted, but identical in image to the original, if merely too small to be perceived.