Lauren Bina: "I have always had an interest in exploring my artwork scientifically."

Written and Edited by Jes Reyes

Indiana Dunes (Detail), Lauren Bina and Carson Giblette (Collaboration), Archival Inkjet Print

The interaction between narrative, science, and art is heavily explored in Fabled Mechanisms, Altered Esthetics latest group exhibition that opened this past weekend on April 29th at The Southern Theater. Artists exhibiting in this show offer works that invent, investigate, and test natural, imaginary and mechanical environments. Lauren Bina, one of the exhibit's Featured Artists represents the theme of this show through how she studies unknown subjects. 

Lauren is showing her Cones series with Altered Esthetics, a project that creates art out of scientific and photographic curiosities and techniques. "I knew that I wanted to experiment with various darkroom techniques to create an image that resembled an x-ray or a microscopic view," she says. The results of this process are aesthetically unique artworks that create fictional worlds.

Cone Study 4, Lauren Bina, Archival Inkjet Print of Photogram

In this interview, Lauren gets at the heart of her practice as an artist, what medium she is most interested in, and what she is working on now: 

Jes: Subject appears to be an inspiring force in your work. Thus, while reviewing your artwork for Fabled Mechanisms we were attracted to the narrative we noticed in your work. We noticed an inquisitive quality to your work. What is it you are trying to investigate or explore? Can you expand upon what you are aiming to communicate?

Lauren: Working scientifically, asking questions and performing tests in order to find the best solution have been something I have always found interest in. When I began working in a more professional creative capacity, this scientific approach traveled with me and began creating narrative within my work. With this approach in mind, I am able to create fictional specimens that I perform testing on while documenting the results photographically. I tend to investigate the strength and resistance of these specimens within differing environments and conditions.

Where did your background in art begin?

I have always had an interest within the arts and found the joy of artistic expression at an early age. My introduction to 35mm photography was during my junior year of high school. The moment I saw my first image appear on silver gelatin paper within the darkroom, I knew that I needed to continue exploring photography. Eventually realizing that teaching photography was my passion, I received a BFA in Photography and a BS in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Hibiscus, Lauren Bina, Archival Inkjet Print

Is there an art medium you tend to explore the most in?

Photography has always been the medium that I tend to explore the most. However, the majority of my photographic work involves the use of sculptural objects. I enjoy the hands on process of building forms while considering how these forms will interact with the environment once photographed. For example, The Monolith Project, a collaborative project with artist Carson Giblette, involved creating a large geometric fiberglass sculpture that we tested and photographically documented in varying midwest environments.

As you move from project to project, how to you keep your creative spark?

The work that I create within each project tends to bring about inspiration for future projects. I build off of what I have learned and discovered from previous projects. For example, my work involves a lot of experimenting with materials and light. I use the observations that I make to develop theories involving the effects that light has on  these materials. I have always had an interest in exploring my artwork scientifically. Using a scientific approach, I am able to analyze how different materials respond to different lighting situations and use this knowledge to refine my work.

Evolved Specimen Measurements, Lauren Bina, Archival Inkjet Print

We are excited to exhibit work from your Cones series in Fabled Mechanisms. What was your process like when creating this work? Why was using the black & white contrast useful in this study?

When working on the Cones series, I knew that I wanted to experiment with various darkroom techniques to create an image that resembled an x-ray or a microscopic view. I began this process by cutting up contrast filters, transparent sheets that create different amounts of contrast when printing in the darkroom. I took these filters and shaped them into small cones of varying sizes. Once the cones were completed, I placed them on my light sensitive paper prior to exposing them with the enlarger. Using black and white contrast within this study was an important factor in working with the contrast filters and creating the scientific and microscopic feel that the photographs emit.

In addition to this, we are showing an image from a book you are working on. Of course we are curious to learn more...please share more with us!

The book that I am currently working on is entitled, The Journals of Dr. François León. This fictional photographic book follows the observational accounts of a Dr. François León as he is called to investigate a fallen asteroid. François swabs the asteroid and after further investigation, he discovers a microscopic organism that has been living on the exterior of the asteroid. Throughout the book, François performs different tests on these organisms, which eventually lead to their evolution.

Field Log 7, Lauren Bina, Archival Inkjet Print

What do you want your relationship to be with your local arts community?

I have made an effort to be an active participator within my local arts community. I find that the arts enhance a community and offer learning opportunities for any individual. As an art educator, I find it vital to incorporate the arts not only within the general education, but within the community as well. I am constantly looking for ways to engage my students and myself with the surrounding community through an incorporation of the arts.

Lauren Bina, Ae Featured Artist

All images courtesy of the artist. 

For more information on Lauren Bina follow her website:

You can view Lauren's work exhibiting with Altered Esthetics before or after performances at The Southern Theater or during limited public gallery hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 - 7:30p PM.