Group Exhibition: "The World Unseen"

Doilies and Blank Stare will be on view in The World Unseen at the CDC Museum (Atlanta) from May 20 – August 30, 2019.

The World Unseen: Intersections of Art and Science
Curated by Louise E. Shaw
May 20 – August 30, 2019
David J. Sencer CDC Museum 
In Association with the Smithsonian Institution
Atlanta, GA

About the work on view

Doilies (2004)

Doilies re-examines the lace doily as an innocuous domestic artifact that traditionally references motifs from nature. The design of each doily in the series is based on a different virus (HIV, SARS, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna). The radial symmetry of the doily form is conflated with that of the enveloped virus structure. The project explores the “domestication” of microbial and biomedical imagery in the quotidian landscape. Bio-terrorism, health epidemics, and anti-microbial products alike have heightened our awareness of the microbial world. The project materializes the notion that an heirloom artifact can manifest the psychological heredity of cultural anxieties. VIEW WORK

Blank Stare (2016)

Blank Stare is a series of laser etchings on paper that integrate waveforms of fluctuating levels of attention recorded with an electroencephalogram (EEG) sensor. The fine lines burned into the paper in a repeated radial pattern create a visual focal point in the center of each etching. Each print in the series repeats a single EEG waveform recorded while the artist stared at a blank sheet of watercolor paper for sixty seconds. VIEW WORK

Material Connections

My early work prior to Doilies (2004) was particularly invested in medical imaging (microscopic, x-ray) and instrumentation (diagnostic, surgical, prosthetics). Much of my work at this time had a decidedly institutional aesthetic often using stainless display furniture or clinical artifacts. I was interested in continuing this exploration of culturally constructed notions around the body with a different aesthetic approach. I began to work more and more with textiles and craft processes as a way to foil the clinical images and artifacts of my work. I increasingly began to use needlework and sewing in often very experimental ways (knitting with vinyl tubing). I was introduced to computerized machine embroidery and was immediately intrigued by the materiality and technology of it. The computerized process allowed me a level of detailed representation of the viral structure that I could not have achieved by hand. The decorative quality of the radial doily form in the Doilies series serves as camouflage for the unsettling virus it illustrates. The series presents a multilayered experience that unfolds for the viewer on their own terms allowing them to move between narratives relating to the topical and historical, scientific and domestic, comfort and discomfort, hand-made and machine-made.

Since creating the Doilies series I have worked increasingly with digital fabrication techniques. With each new combination of process, material and technology I find new inspiration. I have since worked with a variety of computerized craft techniques in experimental ways including embroidery on remnant cosmetic facial peel, creating software generated patterns for computerized weavings, and creating data-driven 3D printed sculptures. The use of physical computing and the creating of custom software has become an increasing part of my recent practice. I often use microcontrollers with biosensors to collect data from my own body as I perform bodily movements in the studio or in live performance.  

The Blank Stare (2016) series is part of this recent body of work. The series uses electroencephalogram (EEG) data collected while I stared at a blank sheet of paper. The EEG data recorded my fluctuating level of attention as my thoughts wandered from mundane noises outside my studio, to unfolding personal and global dramas. The data from each recording was used to generate a waveform that was then arranged in a radial pattern to be burned into paper with a laser etching process.  

My work with digital fabrication techniques continues to allow me to work with materials and their meaning in ways that I find endlessly intriguing. The simultaneous presence of technology and material seems crucial to a thorough examination of the human body and our culturally constructed notions around its contested function and dysfunction. As I work increasingly with data as material, my aesthetics have employed abstraction increasingly as another mode of camouflage for the unsettling realities of our interior biological worlds. READ MORE


Creative Coding with Processing Workshop at AS220

Reimagining Craft Through Code:
Creative Coding, Processing & Gesture Recognition
with Laura Splan

AS220 Media Arts, Providence, RI

February 11, 2019 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Registration Required (Sold Out)

This workshop will introduce the basics of creative coding with Processing. Participants will learn how to create graphics and animations while covering the fundamentals of this open-source programming language. We will also cover basic interactivity including controlling animations using gesture recognition.

Supported by an Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, AS220’S Digital Arts Fellowship invites national female artists working at the forefront of digital media to pass on new skills to their community.


Solo Exhibition at the NYU Langone Medical Center Art Gallery

Laura Splan: Manifest
Solo Exhibition
Curated by Katherine Meehan, NYU Langone Art Collection
June 28–August 23, 2017
NYU Langone Medical Center Art Gallery
New York, NY


The NYU Langone Medical Center Art Gallery is pleased to present Laura Splan: Manifest, a visual translation of the human experience through data-driven works of art.

Laura Splan is a conceptual artist whose work combines art, science, and technology. 

This exhibition presents a series of her sculptures, tapestries, and a work on paper that were made through the use of electromyography readings.  Electromyography records the electrical activity of muscle tissue and is used to assess the health of muscles, and cells that control them called motor neurons. An EMG translates these electrical signals into graphs, sounds, or numerical values. 

To create these works, Splan recorded EMG data from her own body using an Arduino EMG kit (open-source electronic platform for developing interactive projects). She performed various actions and expressions such as smiling, frowning, blinking, and even swallowing.  She altered the kit's code to control the EMG data output and wrote computer programs to translate and generate forms and patterns from the data sources. 

The first series of works generated from this data was "Manifest," which is a group of six sculptures representing six actions or emotions: blink twice, squint, frown, furrow, smile, and swallow.  These actions and facial expressions are associated with the feeling of wonder and marvel. With these 3D printed sculptures made of laser-sintered polyamide nylon, Splan aimed to provide a new visual representation of this experience of wonder–a representation that would differ from words or images of facial expressions or even paintings, but instead of something that would have a direct link to the body.

To fabricate these sculptures, she wrote a custom program to create waveforms from the numerical EMG data. She then used the waveforms as profiles for models that she created in 3D modeling software. These white and pristine 3D works of art depict the exactitude of the readings and the direct correlation of producing them from beginning to end through technology with the use of our bodies. Their white color speaks to the purity of the translations of these facial expressions and muscle signals. Just as white is a summation of all colors, these works represent a summation of the emotional, psychological, intellectual, and the physical–the abstract and the tangible.  These sculptures represent a new set of signifiers with a new image that has a direct link to our body's reactions to these feelings and emotions, to what is signified— in this case, marvel. These works, thus, become a visual representation of our physical, emotional, and psychological beings.  

In addition to these sculptures, Splan used the data to create jacquard loom woven tapestries. These were also fabricated via a computer. She provided the digital files to a tapestry company to produce the artwork. From a distance, the tapestries appear to be patterns in mostly shades of gray. Upon closer inspection, one realizes the threads are black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. Just like the lines created by the thread, the perceived color varies in shades of gray. This, in a way, shows that expressions and the electric signals created by them are both simple and direct—like white or black—and complex—like shades of gray—and can be translated intricately like our thoughts and emotions. Furthermore, the patterns are rhythmic and delicate, depicting movement and change echoing the beauty of a fleeting experience. They in turn, not only are signifiers illustrating wonder, but they also inspire awe as you stare at them.

Splan’s artworks provide a historic image of a specific moment in time, a moment which is marked by feelings to a specific experience. Therefore, these artworks provide a new vocabulary to manifest our feelings and emotions. 

Laura Splan's work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in venues such as the Museum of Arts & Design (New York, NY), Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR), Beall Center for Art + Technology (Irvine, CA), and Jönköpings County Museum(Jönköping, Sweden). Commissioned projects for her work have included soap residue paintings for the Center for Disease Control, computerized lace doilies the Gen Art New Media Art Exhibition, and 3D printed sculptures for Davidson College. Her work is included in the collections of the Thoma Art Foundation, Institute for Figuring, and the UC San Francisco Infectious Disease Department.  She received a Jerome Foundation Grant for research at venues including the Wellcome Museum (London, UK) and La Specola (Florence, IT). She has been awarded artist residencies at Vermont Studio Center and ACRE, and fellowships at Byrdcliffe and Kala Art Institute. Splan has spoken widely at a variety of venues including University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA), California College of Art, New York Academy of Sciences, and The Center for Human-Computer Interaction (Austria). She has been a visiting lecturer at Stanford University, Mills College, University of Maine, and Illinois State University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Manifest is curated by Katherine Meehan, Manager of the NYU Langone Art Program and Collection.

The NYU Langone Art Program and Collection integrates artwork varying in subject and medium into the healing environments of our new and recently renovated facilities. Conceived by Vicki Match Suna AIA, vice dean and senior vice president for Real Estate Development and Facilities, the program is built through acquisitions, commissions, exhibitions, and donations of art, as well as through other visual arts-related programming. The collection features a diverse portfolio of works: paintings, sculptures, installation art, and murals.

"Collecting Digital Art: Highlights + New Acquisitions from the Thoma Foundation"


Collecting Digital Art: Highlights + New Acquisitions from the Thoma Foundation
Santa Fe, NM
Public Reception: Saturday, June 17, 2017, 5-7pm
Artists: Beryl Korot, Brigitte Kowanz, Guillermo Galindo, Laura Splan, Steina Vasulka, Vera Molnar


Collecting Digital Art: Highlights + New Acquisitions from the Thoma Foundation opens at Art House in Santa FeJune 1st with a public reception June 17th, 5-7pm, and will feature the first rotation of ongoing seasonal installations, showcasing significant artworks from the digital art collection that include new acquisitions of historic importance. The new installations feature artworks by Guillermo Galindo, Beryl Korot, Brigitte Kowanz, Vera Molnar, Laura Splan and Steina Vasulka.

The summer installations will include works by video art pioneers Beryl Korot and Steina Vasulka. Korot’s Dachau 1974 explores themes of the Nazi concentration camp as a tourist site, with an interplay of images across four monitors, resembling a basic hand-loom weaving pattern. Vasulka’s Violin Power, 1970-1978, a visionary work within the early history of experimental audiovisual art, uses recorded sound from her violin performance to generate optical video effects. In this innovative work, Vasulka adapts her training as a classical violinist, taming her instrument to convert sound waveforms into electronic signals that, when synthesized with video, produce abstracted imagery. Additionally, nine plotter drawings from the 1976 Transformations series by Vera Molnar, a 2016 Jacquard tapestry by Laura Splan that explores the use of computerized loom techniques to weave patterns derived from electromyography (EMG) readings, and Waveform Coded Landscape, 2015, by genre-defying performer, visual and sound artist Guillermo Galindo, will be on view.

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s digital art collection spans the global history of computer art of the past fifty years. The collection includes some of the first algorithmic plotter drawings on paper, digital animation, software-driven, generative, and custom coded artworks, interactive works based on real-time gaming platforms, virtual reality, internet-based or networked art, and works that utilize LED and LCD displays. The Foundation recognizes the cultural and intellectual value of artworks that make use of experimental and innovative technologies.

Public Reception: There will be a free public reception forCollecting Digital Art: Highlights + New Acquisitions from the Thoma Foundation on Saturday, June 17, 5-7pm, 231 Delgado Street, Santa Fe, NM.

Hours & Tours: Art House’s regular public hours are Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Admission is free, and school and group tours can be arranged in advance during both regular and by-appointment hours with Foundation staff.