16 May 2014

“Sketches of Science” Brings Nobel Prize Winners to OIST

A photo exhibition, “Sketches of Science,” opened May 13 at OIST. This world-travelling exhibition was inaugurated in June 2012 in Stockholm at the Nobel Museum, and has now come to Japan for the first time.  The exhibition showcases more than fifty portraits of Nobel Laureates, taken by German photographer, Volker Steger.  Individual images capture both the Laureates and their hand-drawn sketches of the science for which they were awarded the coveted Nobel Prize.  The portraits are paired with videos and interviews of the winners.  At the event opening, Mr. Steger and other distinguished guests, including the organizer of the exhibition, were welcomed by visitors and OIST employees.

In his opening remarks, OIST Board of Governors Co-chair, Torsten Wiesel, who received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, said, “The winners all look happy.  The exhibition is such a fun experience that it will be over before you know it.”  Another member of the OIST BOG, Tim Hunt, the 2001 Nobel Prize winner in the same category, added, “They look happy not because they won the Nobel Prize, but because of their great discoveries.“  He then noted that the greatness of a discovery is inversely proportional to its probability, and emphasized that winning the Prize involves hard work, vision, and a great deal of luck! 

Director of the Nobel Museum, Olov Amelin said that an educational institute like OIST has many of the key ingredients in the “recipe” for fostering the award-winning scientists. Then he added that winning the Nobel Prize requires other factors such as fantastic people, good funding, fruitful collaboration, mobility, as well as vision and hard work. “A group of heroes is what we have brought you today,” Mr. Amelin said, underlining the importance of drawing inspiration from heroes in one’s own field. The photographer Mr. Steger shared his past experience of having been exposed to more conventional portraits of the Nobel Laureates, which he said failed to convey their personalities and lacked explanations of the discoveries for which they won the Prize. “I was hoping to get them more involved in themselves as subjects, and in the process of creating the portraits.”  OIST President Jonathan Dorfan summed up all the previous remarks by saying, “I personally know some of the Laureates and I know that they don’t always look happy. It is Mr. Steger’s ability that makes them happy.” 

The “Sketches of Science” photo exhibition is free, and runs until July 6 in the OIST Tunnel Gallery.

By Mayumi Nishioka


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