Makers Among Us is a new section of ArtsLine that highlights members of the AADM community that are also artists, crafters, and makers. For the first installment of Makers Among Us, I spoke with Mike Tanis, current AADM student.
Mike started making art in 2014 after coming across computational origami in the course of his thesis research into the connections between art and science. He couldn't find many examples of artists directly involved in scientific research, so he decided to take it upon himself to see if he could figure out how to do it.
Though creating art isn’t his full-time occupation, he does currently work as an artist in residence with the Kamien Group at the University of Pennsylvania. Kamien studies the physics of soft condensed matter, which is rich with abstract forms and patterns. Mike says his creative practice is a product of extensive collaboration with designers, physicists and engineers. He has an office/studio space in the physics department at Penn where he says he basically just makes art all day. “It's much less stressful than the art world, because you don't have to worry about selling or framing anything,” he says.
Mike describes his art as kinetic and based on abstract geometry. “Many of the concepts and forms I use turn out to be useful for structural, mechanical and design applications,” he says. “I make a lot of continuous structures and surfaces, which the engineers I work with develop into metamaterials, functional objects and component systems that can be scaled, actuated and manufactured with a variety of materials and methods.”
If taken seriously, Mike says he thinks art can have a huge impact on the world, and that it is most important to respect artistic process and art itself as a discipline, rather than try to mine creativity for other fields. “I'm excited to see it become more of a priority in education and business,” he says.
More of Mike Tanis’ work can be viewed on his Instagram account.