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UWF professor To Take His ‘Turbidity Paintings’ To Hong Kong

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Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO
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University of West Florida art professor Thomas Asmuth continues to forge a reputation as an innovative explorer of experimental media by blending art, science and technology.

Along with colleague Sara Gevurtz, a Virginia Commonwealth University instructor who has a biology and environmental science background, Asmuth is working on a Florida Research Fellowship-funded project that uses remotely operated submersibles to collect data and images of the turbidity of water.

Turbidity measures the degree to which water loses transparency because of suspended particles. It is one of the factors environmental scientists use in measuring water quality.

Results will be displayed in a photographic form that serves as an immediate and understandable image of the current environment. Think of a grid of photographs mounted on a wall like a graphic arts installation, Gevurtz said.

“It’s art as data, and data as art,” Asmuth said

Asmuth and Gevurtz have been invited to discuss their work at the annual International Symposium of Electronic Art in Hong Kong, May 16-22. ISEA allows individuals and organizations from around the world working with art, science and technology to come together to share and experience the intersection of emerging technologies and art, including both visual and performing.

In a preview of their ISEA presentation, Asmuth and Gevurtz gave a lecture and slideshow explaining the turbidity project at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts, March 10.

Though Asmuth and Gevurtz have yet to produce images with the two submersible vehicles they built, the ISEA committee asked them to present their project as part of a works in progress lecture.

They will collect their first images when they attend the conference and launch the two submersibles into Kowloon Bay in Hong Kong. In the meantime, Asmuth and Gevurtz continue to do test runs with their vehicles and create sensors to attach to them that can collect data in addition to the photographs.

“I’ve always been fascinated with making the invisible visible and also with things that are part art and part science,” Asmuth said.

This article is part of a collaboration between WUWF and the UWF Center for Research and Economic Opportunity.