Precision and Imagination, a weekend-long Wonder Cabinet, pitched squarely along the borderlands between Art & Science

APRIL 20-22, 2018

The past few decades have seen ever-more fertile interpenetrations between the arts and sciences, which is to say a return to the way things used to be in the times of Michelangelo and Leonardo, before the artificial division of those realms about three hundred years ago. Thus, to take just one example, Matthew Shlian, the first artist awarded the Frederick Hammersley Artist Residency at Tamarind Institute, is as at home fashioning his own paper-folding marvels as he is consulting with microbiologists on protein folding or materials scientists on molecular arrays.

In the spirit of Shlian’s work, Tamarind will host a Wonder Cabinet in Albuquerque, April 20-22, 2018. Longtime New Yorker staff-writer Lawrence Weschler, director emeritus of both the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, and the Chicago Humanities Festival will curate a weekend of presentations, panels, demonstrations, and astonishments of all sorts.

All events are free and open to the public. RSVP via Eventbrite.

Tamarind Institute thanks these local organizations and businesses for contributing to the Albuquerque Wonder Cabinet:

Schedule of Events

­­­­­This program and some of the particular orderings are subject to addition and change. Please check back regularly, or follow Tamarind Institute on Facebook for regular updates.

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2018

3:00 PM
Tamarind Institute, 2500 Central Avenue SE

Ash Armenta, Tamarind Master Printer

5:30 PM
George Pearl Hall, UNM School of Architecture and Planning
Tamarind Director will open the Albuquerque Wonder Cabinet, and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller will offer a brief welcoming message.

Lawrence Weschler, author and director emeritus, New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University will open the Wonder Cabinet with a lavishly illustrated talk (originally fashioned as the keynote for a National Science Foundation symposium).

 7:00-8:30 PM
Tamarind Institute (RSVP not required)
Featuring new three-dimensional lithographs by Matthew Shlian, alongside path breaking computer drawings by Frederick Hammersley from back in the sixties, Two-fold will open with the unveiling of Matthew Shlian’s latest creation in Tamarind’s Central-facing window.


The Saturday and Sunday portion of the Wonder Cabinet will take place at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th Street SW, where Robert Krulwich, the marvelous co-host of NPR’s Radiolab program, will join Weschler as moderator.

SATURDAY, 9:30 AM – 12:15 PM
(doors open at 9)

The Wonder Cabinet will kick off with a celebration evoking the person and art of the eminent late Albuquerque-based artist Frederick Hammersley, a charmingly sly lay-mathematician in his own right, whose Foundation is helping to sponsor this entire weekend. Speakers will include Elizabeth East, Director of LA Louver, and Joseph Traugott, independent curator and writer, and member of the Frederick Hammersley Foundation Board of Directors.

Optical Marvels will feature the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio’s incredible Liminal Camera — a giant camera fashioned out of a shipping container and mounted on the back of a flatbed truck that travels the country in search of fresh vantages. Visitors will be encouraged to enter the camera to see projections of the world turned upside-down.  Optics Division artists Lauren Bon, Richard Nielsen, and Tristan Duke will also display their room-length photographs and describe in particular the way they used the camera to photograph desert scapes whose negatives they then developed in the polluted muds of the deserts themsleves.  Trevor and Ryan Oakes, the so-called “Perspective Twins,” celebrated for their invention of a method for rendering camera-obscura-exact pen and ink drawings, deploying no other equipment than their own two eyes, will then display instances of same; and Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the TedTalk superstar and inventor of Photosynth, currently a leader in Google’s machine intelligence, computer vision and computational photography initiatives, will join in.

SATURDAY,  1:30 – 6:30 PM

This session will begin with a talk by paper engineer extraordinaire Matthew Shlian, after which he will be in dialog with his collaborator at the University of Michigan, chemical engineer and materials scientist, Sharon GlotzerTristan Duke will return to display some confounding geometric constructs of his own, including his hand-etched holograms (a technology he developed for his fine art but has been applying to the etching of holograms on vinyl records for albums ranging from Jack White to Star Wars).  Next to the podium will be Margaret Wertheim, founder of the Institute for Figuring and co-inventor and convener of the Crochet Coral Reef (among other things a once-thought-impossible physical realization of nonEuclidean space); and Deborah Coombs, a stained glass master who over the past several years has been realizing three-dimensional iterations of the five-dimensional space implicit in Penrose tilings.  The theme common to both is the way artists can often feel and see and fashion their way into mathematical breakthroughs by way of hand (as opposed to abstract analytical) work. Walter Murch, all around polymath and arguably one of the greatest film and sound editors in the world today, will Skype in with a slide lecture propounding an intriguing new theory about the origins, placement and function of Egypt’s ancient pyramids.

Columbia University neuroscientist Carl Schoonover (Portraits of Mind) will share his laptop full of extraordinary microscopic images of the brain matching it off against those found in the laptop of Michael Benson, the maven behind such books of telescopic and space probe photographic splendors as Beyond, Far Out and Cosmigraphics. Schoonover will then stick around to engage with New York-based artist Beth Campbell, whose art consists of complex decision trees graphing the implications of her own everyday dilemmas, in a conversation welling out from the question of whether we think the way we do because of the way our brains are, as it were, wired?

(doors open at 9:30)

Sunday begins with a conversation with Ramiro Gomez

This session features Taos-based artist Agnes Chavez, who is currently collaborating with CERN to create an installation to visualize data from the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, with Greg Cajete, a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo and the director of Native American Studies at The University of New Mexico, in a conversation about Chavez, her work, and its resonances with Native American cosmologies.

Albuquerque itself, and in particular The University of New Mexico, happens to be one of the nation’s most fertile centers for the interpenetration of science and art, and this session will shine a special light on some of the area’s most vivid instances, with designer Alex Webb, chair of the Computational Ecologies program in the School of Architecture and Planning at UNM, and artist, engineer and ecologist Andrea Polli, who chairs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab in the University’s Center for Advanced Research Computing joined by R. Luke DuBois, composer, artist, and performer visiting from New York University.

SUNDAY, 1 – 3 PM


The weekend will culminate with a celebration of the iconic film masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, with Michael Benson, author of the just released book Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke and the Making of a Masterpiece, joined in conversation by Weschler, Krulwich, and other panelists. David Krakauer will also offer some related thoughts on monoliths through the ages.

Speaker Bios

Riva Lehrer, The Pt Barnum of the Mind (Cat’s Cradle) (detail), 2008. Charcoal and mixed media on paper, 30 x 44 inches. Image courtesy of Lawrence Weschler.
 Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Inventor of Photosynth and currently with Machine Intelligence, Google, Inc.  | read full bio 
 Ash Armenta, Tamarind Master Printer  read full bio
 Michael Benson, Artist, space probe imagery curator, and author (Beyond, Cosmigraphics, A Space Odyssey)  read full bio
 Lauren Bon, Lauren Bon, Artist working in social practice, Founding Artist Metabolic Studio and its Optics Division, Los Angeles | read full bio
 Greg Cajete, Director/Associate Professor Native American Studies, The University of New Mexico | read full bio
 Beth Campbell, New York-based artist whose art focuses on complex decision trees | read full bio
Agnes Chavez  Agnes Chavez, Taos-based artist and currently serving as Artistic Director to design a permanent installation visualizing data from the Large Hadron Collider , CERN, Switzerland
| read full bio
 Deborah Coombs, award-winning stained glass artist   | read full bio
 Luke DuBois, Co-Director/Associate Professor, Integrated Digital Media, New York University  | read full bio
Tristan Duke, Artist, inventor, and pioneer in the field of hand-drawn holography; founder, Infinity Light Science; founding member, Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, Los Angeles  | read full bio
Elizabeth East, Director, L.A. Louver, Los Angeles | read full bio
 Sharon Glotzer, Department Chair, Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan | read full bio
Ramiro Gomez | Painter addressing issues of immigration and making visible the “invisible” labor forces read full bio
David Krakauer, President and Professor of Complex Systems, Santa Fe Institute | read full bio
Robert Krulwich, NPR correspondent and cofounder, Radiolab | read full bio
Walter Murch, Film and sound editor (Godfather films, Apocalypse Now, English Patient), all-around polymath | read full bio
 Richard Nielsen, Artist, photographer and printmaker; founder, Untitled Prints and Editions, Los Angeles; founding member, Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, Los Angeles  | read full bio
Trevor and Ryan Oakes, “The Perspective Twins,” artists and inventors of novel drafting techniques | read full bios
Andrea Polli, Social Media Workgroup, The University of New Mexico Center for Advanced Research ComputingAndrea Polli | read full bio
Carl Schoonover, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Axel Laboratory, Columbia University | read full bio
Matthew Shlian, Paper engineer/Designer, regular collaborator at the University of Michigan | read full bio
Joseph Traugott, Independent curator and writer, and Board of Directors member, Frederick Hammersley Foundation | read full bio
Alex Webb, Assistant Professor and Chair, Computational Ecologies, The University of New Mexico | read full bio
Margaret Wertheim, writer, artist and curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. She is the author of six books, including Pythagoras Trousers | read full bio
Lawrence Weschler, Author and director emeritus, New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University | read full bio

Media Info

For additional images, press releases, or to schedule interviews, please contact Shelly Smith, Tamarind Marketing & Development at, 505.277.3792.


Matthew Shlian, Unholy 85 (Go Down Moses/ There’s Fire in the Woods), 2017. Three-dimensional lithograph, 48 x 40 x 5 inches. Published by Tamarind Institute. Support provided by Legion Paper and St. Cuthbert’s Mill.