The Shadow Colour Pavilion: rooting for dialogue between art and science

8th November 2021

Words by Dr Georgina Portelli,  MICAS Creative Committee

Since its concept launch in 2018, MICAS has worked hard to establish itself within the creative ecology. It has been focusing on fulfilling its remit for internationalisation by attracting cutting edge contemporary art and artists to Malta, while bringing to the fore Maltese artists’ contributions to the contemporary idiom.  MICAS’ further goal is to create an inclusive program of events to connect with our communities and with the wider cultural, educational and innovation networks. It is now therefore moving forward with the development of the programme’s educational and community strand. It is the firm intention of MICAS to embrace an approach that sustains the creative dialogue between contemporary art and science. This will be an intrinsic pillar of the educational and community strand. 

Art has an indispensable role to play in nurturing a creative innovative perspective, and science and art lend themselves well to interdisciplinary inquiries. Artists negotiate their perspective of the world and meaning making through colour, form, light, sound and now more than ever harness new technologies in art making. Art, dynamic as ever, has particularly embraced the rise of these new technologies, whose development science informs and that are now avidly shaping our contemporary culture. The interface of scientific principles with art therefore is a healthy conversation that MICAS wants to support and further. This is relevant because art can reflect upon and apply the principles of science, while science, with its countless fields of study, can also help unpack the intricacies of human perception, cognition and action. There is also significant overlap between art and science on a multitude of issues, such as climate change and the evolution of artificial intelligence and intelligent machines, that also reflect the concerns of contemporary society.  Bridging science with art should help integrate knowledge across disciplines. The creativity that a discipline like art fosters is also vital for scientific practice and innovation, where new solutions to long standing problems or questions need to be constructed.

To this effect and in line with its educational remit, MICAS has embarked on a collaborative partnership with the Esplora Interactive Science Centre and the Valletta Cultural Agency, to deliver a neighborhood and community engagement project that explores the science of light, shadow and colour perception. 

MICAS launched the first part of this community and outreach initiative in November 2019 at the Magazino Hall (Valletta Waterfront). It sought to engage with its neighbourhood schools to deliver a series of Art Lab workshops facilitated by communicators from Esplora Interactive Science Centre led by Elaine Manicaro and Sarah Galea together with the MICAS Team.  

Over 400 students attending San Ġorġ Preca College (Valletta Primary and Floriana Primary) and St Albert the Great College, participated in the Art Labs workshops. The workshops offered a series of activities that introduced students between 5 and 10 years of age to colour spectrums, light and colour perception, shadows, additive colour mixture and colour theory. This introduction to scientific principles relevant to art was negotiated through creative exploration and expression which participating students enthusiastically embraced. 

Education is at the heart of MICAS’ remit and the aim is to remove barriers and make contemporary art accessible to all. We believe that a more diverse participation is possible through contemporary immersive art experiences that engage with the wider community.

In line with the community programme’s focus on the  exploration of  the science of light, shadow and colour perception, MICAS will present the Shadow Colour Pavilion on the 20th and 21st November at St. George’s Square in Valletta. This event utilises light and the phenomenon of coloured shadows to immerse visitors in a multisensorial experience and invite them to explore colour perception, light, shadow and space. It offers a stimulating interactive environment where visitors of all ages can actively participate and explore creative process by moving within the pavilion and generate multiple coloured shadows themselves. Participants will also be encouraged to capture the images they themselves generate on their phones and upload them to an image wall at #MicasMalta

Our vision therefore is to resolutely bring art and science together, while proactively nurturing creativity and innovation. MICAS’ education and community programme strand is intended to foster and strengthen community and neighbourhood engagement, while prioritising inclusion and wider participation. The language of art can transcend cultures and aids cohesion in neighbourhoods, communities and society while also encouraging divergent thinking. We hope therefore, that you will join us at the Shadow Colour Pavilion this coming November.

The Shadow Colour Pavilion is supported by the Valletta Local Council and the Ministry for The National Heritage, The Arts and Local Government.

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