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Artists Team Up
for the Future

Visualizing the Invisible

Artists as Stakeholders

Herstory & Beyond

1980s : Artists Team Up for the Future

In the early 1980s, Sandor explored the relationship between photography, sculpture, and video art, while being inspired by the spiritual nature of Outsider Art.  Her unique vision to integrate more traditional with nascent art forms including computer graphics, resulted in a new medium she called PHSColograms–3D barrier-screen computer-generated photographs and sculptures.  In 1983, she formed the (art)n collective with SAIC peers, James Zanzi, Gina Uhlmann, Gary Justis and Randy Johnson, whose debut installation of PHSCologram ’83 made the cover of the New Art Examiner.  

PHSCologram ’83 attracted the attention of Dan Sandin, Tom DeFanti and Phil Morton, followed by Larry Smarr and Donna Cox.  New innovations emerged from their exploration of PHSColograms, and were produced through a collaborative methodology called Renaissance Teams, a term coined by Donna J. Cox, in which artists became producers and directors of these initiatives.


1990s : visualizing the invisible

“Scientists are the Rockstars of the Future.” 

–Ellen Sandor

As more scientists began commissioning PHSColograms to show their research, Ellen Sandor was successful in having them shown as works of art by Hudson at Feature Inc. and other museum venues, including the ICI’s traveling exhibition, From Media to Metaphor: Art About AIDS, Art Futura ’91 and the Science in Depth Traveling show, sponsored by the ACM.  Collaborations with the late great Chicago Imagist, Ed Paschke, Miroslaw Rogala and Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation began alongside important commissions for the Museum of Jewish Heritage, The Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the National Institutes of Health.  


The potential of PHSColograms for medical applications was also explored with Picker International and 3M to create EpiView, a real-time app (before the term was invented) in which physicians could print PHSColograms as 3D X-Rays to prevent invasive procedures and was used in hospitals.  A similar app was created to print iGrams, real-time PHSColograms from EVL’s VR CAVE.  Commercial projects included pieces for Nintendo of America and other video game companies as well.  (art)n’s website was launched in 1993 while at IIT, and won many awards after moving to Northwestern University’s research park in ‘94 and later, above the School of the Art Institute’s Gallery 2 location in Greek Town.  



"Art saves. Tough art and science really saves.”

–Ellen Sandor

In the early 2000s, (art)h was commissioned  by the City of Chicago to honor WWII Veterans who bravely fought during the Battle of Midway.  The Memorial is presently installed at Midway Airport and was based on oral histories from WWII veterans who recalled their personal reflections and shared their experiences. PHSCologram murals depicted the battle as the turning point of WWII, based on vital code-breaking intelligence solved by a covert team of service men guided–by a female intelligence officer and hidden figure–Agnes Driscoll.   After developing iGrams to print PHSColograms from the VR CAVE, (art)n co-producd a VR piece, Special Treatment, that takes viewers inside of a barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Additionally (art)n collaborated with Martyl, the designer of the Doomsday Clock who gave Ellen Sandor and (art)n their first show at Fermilab in 1987, to create a PHSCologram of the clock, juxtaposed with Martyl’s Tent Rocks painting.  While the clock was created in the aftermath of WWII for warnings of nuclear war, beyond 2000, the clock has been moved for climate change, terrorism and potential misuse of developing technologies.  

Scientific breakthroughs were also percolating at (art)n with the creation of an interactive sculpture, Telomeres Project on Imminent Immortality, which was based on the underground research of scientists who were exploring the potential of telomerase to prevent aging and life-threatening diseases.  A trio of scientists, including two women, later shared the Nobel Prize for their discoveries of telomeres.  The sculpture debuted at SIGGRAPH '01 in Los Angeles and was included in a traveling exhibition that celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the discovery of DNA.  (art)n also continued working with medical scientists to create PET Study PHSColograms that were shown at the International Center of Photography’s How Human: Life in the Post-Genome Era exhibition.  Additional artworks produced include a commissioned virtual sculpture, Universal Atmospheres for NCSA's new building plus PHSColograms of historic landmarks, groundbreaking works of architecture and an homage to the late great Chicago Imagist, Roger Brown.