Penn State Berks professor coordinates national art, science exhibition

Traveling Gallery of Fluid Motion presents “Chaosmosis: Assigning Rhythm to the Turbulent”
artistic rendition of fluid dynamics

 A video still from Roman De Giuli's "Sense of Scale," part of the exhibit coordinated by Azar Panah.

Credit: Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences “Chaosmosis: Assigning Rhythm to the Turbulent” exhibition.

WYOMISSING, Pa. — Azar Panah, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State Berks, has coordinated an educational art exhibition inspired by fluid dynamics at the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS). The Traveling Gallery of Fluid Motion presents “Chaosmosis: Assigning Rhythm to the Turbulent,” which opened on Oct. 2 and will remain on view through Feb. 23, 2024, at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) building, located at 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 

Fluid dynamics is a discipline that describes the flow of liquids and gases. This unique exhibition draws from past submissions to the American Physical Society (APS) Gallery of Fluid Motion, an annual program of the Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) that serves as a visual record of the aesthetic and science of contemporary fluid dynamics. For the first time, a selection of these past submissions has been curated into an educational art exhibition to engage viewers’ senses as they relate to  chaosmosis, a term coined by the philosopher Félix Guattari in the 1990s, that conveys the idea of transforming chaos into complexity. It assigns rhythm to the turbulent, linking breathing with the subjective perception of time, and concluding that respiration is what unites us all.  

As the Gallery of Fluid Motion coordinator, Panah collaborates annually with the local organizing committee of the annual DFD conferences, providing guidance on video and poster entry management, display and judging for the gallery. She oversees award distribution and assists winners in publishing their entry descriptions and press releases. Additionally, Panah liaises with APS publishing staff and editors of the journal Physical Review Fluids for the submission and online presentation of Gallery entries. She also engages with the DFD executive committee to address gallery-specific issues, serves as an ex-officio member of the Media and Science Relations Committee and actively promotes the gallery as a tool to advance the division's outreach goals. 

The creators of the 11 works on view in the exhibition, which range from photography and video to sculpture and sound, are scientists and artists. Their work aims to enable viewers to see the invisible and understand the ever-moving elements surrounding and affecting humanity.  
The Leonhard Center at Penn State University Park will assist Panah in assessing the program to understand learning in informal science contexts for this exhibit, as well as how it might help establish DFD as a leader in science communication and outreach activities. It will also serve as a platform to showcase the initiatives and scholarly contributions of the DFD community, while striving to enlighten the public about the marvels of physics through the captivating lens of art.  

While visiting the exhibit, viewers are asked to scan a QR code and take a survey to share their experience as part of the assessment. Participants who complete the survey will have the opportunity to be considered for gift cards through a random selection process, sponsored by the Leonard Center. 

Additionally, the Fluid Dynamics Research Consortium (FDRC) at Penn State will partially sponsor an informal reception during the DFD 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington on Nov. 20. This occasion offers an engagement opportunity with artists while enjoying an evening of camaraderie and creative exchange. 
The exhibition is curated by Natalia Almonte and Nicole Economides in coordination with Azar Panah and APS, DFD. Follow the CPNAS and Chaosmosis Instagram pages for the latest updates and news @cpnas @chaos_osmosis. For more information about this exhibition, read the news release published by CPNAS and APS. 

About Azar Panah 
At Penn State Berks, Azar Panah teaches core mechanical engineering courses and her specialty is in experimental fluid mechanics. Her research interests are focused on unsteady aerodynamics of biologically-inspired air and underwater vehicles, thermal and wind comfort around buildings, flow visualization and engineering education. Panah designed and constructed a water channel facility in the Fluid Discovery Lab, a state-of-the-art engineering laboratory in the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building and the only open access water channel dedicated to the study of fluid dynamics in the Penn State system. Panah brought the initiative to the college and worked with students, an architect and a builder to complete construction of the lab in a little over a year. The lab offers undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in graduate-level research and practical experiments, reinforcing classroom theory in the field of fluid dynamics.