AXS Festival 2014: Piquing Curiosity in the Arts & Sciences

Pasadena has been a hub of the arts and sciences. The North East Los Angeles town is home to several art museums including the Norton Simon Museum and Pasadena Museum of California Art as well as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). This fall, the Pasadena  Arts Council (PAC) celebrates human innovation and creativity through hosting the AXS (pronounced “axis”) Festival. The theme for this year’s city-wide festival is Curiosity, inspired by NASA’s Mars Rover of the same name.


“The interplay between human curiosity, scientific investigation, and artistic risk-taking reflects a cultural zeitgeist that not only defines Pasadena as the City of Art and Science, but also illuminates the richness, diversity, and sheer innovation of human aspiration and achievement in the 21st century,” says Terry LeMoncheck, PAC Executive Director, “Art and science are united in the AxS Festival – both are powerful engines of contemporary culture.”

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Sphaerae at night

Sphaerae is a pop-up exhibit located across the street from the Norton Simon Museum. Looking like a deflated hot-air when not in use, the exhibit puffs up to form a cluster of white bubbles at night. Designed by Dutch architect Cocky Eek, Sphaerae was conceived to develop a space where audiences can have a synaesthetic experience. The innards of the planetarium are doused in abstract visuals that mimic molecular interactions accompanied by spacey sounds, while audience members sit or lay on the floor.



The Sphaerae exhibit will host a live performance of 10,000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid – the work that inspired the shape of the inflatable pavilion.

10,000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid and interview with creators Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand


Sphaerae will also debut Sol Path, an immersive audiovisual experience.  Inspired by the travels that the Curiosity Rover makes in a Martian day, the work will use actual data from the explorer and work it into a composition by Bruno Louchouarn. The experience will include galactic projections strewn across the walls of the pop-up installation and will be accompanied by live music.


On the same lawn, PAC presents the Los Angeles debut of Metapmorphosis, a 1:1000 scale of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. The model employs sprinklers to deploy a fine mist resembling a comet’s tail. It also stands on a pool of water – a nod to the theory that comets brought water to Earth millions of years ago. The C-G Comet is the center of the Rosetta Mission – an international space program which aims to place a man-made craft on a celestial rock the size of New York’s Central Park.


The AXS Festival has not forgotten about the children. Kidspace has partnered with PAC to create an interactive programmed called The Art and Science of Flight. Youth are invited to play with stomp rockets to wrap their heads around Newton’s Third Law (“When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in the direction of the first body”). Kids can craft their own kites and paper airplanes to investigate Bernoulli’s principle.


AXS aims to inspire attendees to explore the crossroads of art and sciences for themselves. Spark a sense of interest in pushing the boundaries of human knowledge through exploring space and the world around us.

For more information on the festival, you can visit their website here! But act quick, because some of the exhibits such as Sphaerae will be closing on October 5!


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