From Van Gogh's cloned ear to indoor rain: 13 sculptures made by science

Updated 5:38 AM ET, Mon May 18, 2015
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This is Van Gogh's left ear. The one he famously chopped off. Kind of. Artist Diemut Strebe worked with stem cell scientists -- including the creator of the controversial "ear mouse" -- to grow the cartilage over the period of a year in a bioreactor, using tissue donated by a living relative of the tortured Dutch painter. Courtesy Diemut Strebe
Not satisfied with this ungodly Frankenstein-esque feat of resurrection, Strebe allowed visitor's to talk to the ear, through a microphone which is connected to software which produces simulated nerve impulses to mimic the response of the the dead artist's auditory nerve. Courtesy Diemut Strebe
You're going to want to see this one in action. Sculptor John Edmark calls them "blooms": they're 3D-printed sculptures, designed to come to life when spun under a strobe light. Courtesy John Edmark
The placement of the sculpture's ridges follows the same pattern that can be seen across many natural forms -- such as pinecones' scales and sunflower seeds. The whole thing rotates at a speed that is synchronized to a flashing strobe light so that one flash occurs every time the sculpture turns 137.5º -- the so called "golden angle" beloved of mathematicians and natural scientists. Courtesy John Edmark
In this project, a random image is fed into Google's search-by-image function and returns an photo of a woman modelling a body-slimming outfit. This is then put through an "algorithmic image-comparison technique" which automatically designs a 3D printable object. Courtesy Matthew Plummer-Fernandez
The result is the Venus of Google, by London-based artist Matthew Plummer-Fernandez: a foot-tall plaster sculpture which, he says, elucidates his interest in current technology "being both advanced and primitive at the same time." Courtesy Matthew Plummer-Fernandez
NYC design studio Hypersonic have created "Breaking Wave," a kinetic sculpture that's supposed to show how medical researchers extract ordered meaning from the blur of data their experiments produce. Courtesy Hypersonic
The 804 suspended wooden spheres move independently on several miles of wire rope, and the ordered pattern will only become clear from the chaos to the viewer who looks at them from exactly the right perspective. Courtesy Hypersonic
These shadow sculptures, by mathematicians Henry Segerman and Saul Schleimer, make use of a phenomenon called "stereographic projection," first used to map the earth and the skies. Courtesy Henry Segerman
Light shone from a pinpoint source creates a "map" on the table in the shadow of the globe. A grid of straight lines appear from the curved 3D-printed sculpture. Courtesy Henry Segerman
Michael Hansmeyer is an architect and programmer who uses algorithms -- and some very low-tech materials -- to generate spectacular architectural forms. The Subdivided Columns project eschews 3D printing in favor of cardboard, which is laser cut according to an algorithm that creates over 16 million faces, using a simple dividing process. Michael Hansmeyer
His "Digital Grotesque" is entirely 3D printed out of sand. Again, the whole structure is designed by algorithms of his own creation. Hansmeyer/Dillenburger
Another one you'll want to see move: Jennifer Townley's kinetic art sculptures combine geometrical patterns with mechanical engineering to create hypnotic robots. Courtesy Jennifer Townley
"The way our brain reacts when we look at patterns or repetitive shapes is very interesting," says the Netherlands-based artist, "especially when they move and change shape and position slowly." Courtesy Jennifer Townley
Being rained on -- indoors -- without a touch of water hitting you head. That was the paradoxical promise of interactive design specialists Random International's "Rain Room" at London's Barbican Centre. Rain Room (2012) by Random International
Cameras followed visitors' positions across the room and directed the artificial rain away from their heads, resulting in the unworldly experience of being surrounded, but untouched, by the torrent. Rain Room (2012) by Random International
Jonty Hurwitz makes no secret of his desire to bring together contemporary science and art, and delights that his famed hair's breadth "nano-sculptures" depend on the very latest bleeding-edge technology, and would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago. Courtesy Jonty Hurwitz
His anamorphic sculptures also use advanced computer modeling algorithms: these include the mathematical constant Pi to create an indecipherable, skewed model, whose hidden form becomes clear only when reflected in a tube-shaped mirror. Courtesy Jonty Hurwitz
Physicist and light-sculptor Paul Friedlander creates "three dimensional kinetic bodies" by utilizing tricks of our perception. Courtesy Paul Friedlander
A spinning rope passed through what Friedlander calls a "chromastrobic" light beam -- one that changes color faster than the eye can see -- produces remarkable phenomena. Watch. Courtesy Paul Friedlander
3,600 LCD tiles transform from transparent to opaque to produce patterns and animations, created by "algorithmic software modeling of natural phenomena" and compositing of actual footage. Courtesy So So Limited
Artists Sosolimited say the screen "cycles through twenty programs, ranging from clouds to rain drops to colonies of bacteria to flocking birds to geese to cuttlefish skin to pulsating black holes." Courtesy So So Limited
Sculptor Nathalie Miebach translates scientific data from the realms of astronomy, ecology and meteorology into woven sculpture. This one shows the meteorological and oceanic interactions along the Gulf of Maine Courtesy Nathalie Miebach
"By staying true to the numbers, these woven pieces tread an uneasy divide between functioning both as sculptures in space as well as instruments that could be used in the actual environment from which the data originates," says the artist. Courtesy Nathalie Miebach
Natural science also has a growing presence in sculpture. Gigantic living sculptures incorporating millions of flowers and plants have taken center stage in Montreal and Atlanta Botanical Gardens. But this project is something like the opposite. Courtesy Rebecca Louise Law
London flower artist Rebecca Louise Law has created a dying -- and drying -- installation from 16,000 cut flowers that will cross the mortal boundary above the heads of visitors to a Times Square building, transforming from living organism to potpourri over a week. Courtesy Rebecca Louise Law