Texas Tech University

Marcando el relámpago

Marcando el relampago

September 30, 2017 - January 28, 2018

Marcando el relámpago is a collaborative exhibition, marking exchanges between an atmospheric scientist, Eric Bruning, and a visual artist, Tina Fuentes. The science and the art combine to present insights into lightning—a dynamic, powerful, and spectacular component of our planet's weather systems. The language and practice of science often takes the form of rigorous logic and precise experiments. Technical analyses result in charts and graphs that compare theories to experiments. These processes seek to provide clear rationales for phenomena observed in the world. Art encourages understanding through expressive means: manipulation of color, shape, movement, composition, texture and more. In this exhibition, science and art combine to advance our understanding of lightning.

And what is the science of this project?

By the time one lightning strike reaches the ground, five have often taken place overhead but are hidden by a cloud. Observations of lightning by scientists peel back the cloud and show where each lightning path begins, and how far it extends. Sometimes the path is short, and sometimes it is long.


The short lightning paths remind scientists of choppy gusts of wind in turbulent clouds; the long paths of lightning are like the smooth motions of layered, extensive clouds. These observations suggested a scientific experiment to discover if the character of the motion of the clouds and the length of lightning were linked. The resulting Kinematic* Texture and Lightning Experiment measured how electrical energy was distributed among different lightning paths, and how the measured electrical energy compared to the distribution of energy in the turbulent motions of clouds.

*Kinematics, pronounced kin-e-mat-ics, refers to the study of the motion of objects or groups of objects without considering what causes the motion. In this case, "kinematic texture" refers to the variations of wind.

And what is the art of this project?

In this exhibition, the measurements from the scientific experiments connect with drawings, paintings and two video installations that explore the textures, movements, lights and energy of thunderstorm clouds and the paths lightning takes through them. The art works combine physical and emotional sensations that we encounter as we watch and experience the clouds and lightning of a thunderstorm.

Nube 4 (Cloud 4), 2016

The markings of colors and intensities of light reflected by the clouds; the gestures of strong and subtle, rapid and slow movement of lightning and clouds; the sense of immersion in a storm; the impact of a thunderstorm on birds; and even the smells of the rain, the dust in the wind, and the electricity. . .all of these experiences flow through the paintings and video. Even the scale of the art works evoke small and large storms, distant and intimate experiences of clouds and lightning.

And for you?

This exhibition melds the art of Tina Fuentes and the science of Eric Bruning. What is perhaps more difficult to exhibit is the creative dialogue between them: how art and science investigate hand in hand these weather phenomenon. How do they marry understandings of the world? This dimension of the project is left for you to explore. You, the audience, will discover this marriage between art and science.