Joseph Cohen: Nanocarbons through the Artist’s Lens

Joseph Cohen

Four years ago, artist Joseph Cohen held an art exhibit in New York City titled “Dasein.” His paintings at the time incorporated materials like gold, silver, platinum, diamond dust, as well as precious and nonprecious pigments.

This caught the eye of scientist Dan Heller, who had attended the event and was very intrigued by Cohen’s work. He told Cohen he had the eye for material science.

“Dan and I spoke at the exhibit. We talked about my process and how I think about the material as a means to more specifically address and understand the kind of human condition and the physical world. We found that this vision could be reflected nicely in some of the materials that he was utilizing in his lab,” says Cohen, who was invited by Heller to work with new materials at The Daniel Heller Lab. “That’s when I became aware that I could work at a more refined, molecular level. I studied and studied, and worked very closely with the people in his lab. I began to research carbon nanotubes and began working with them due to their unique optical and physical properties.”

Cohen says this lead him to eventually combine science and technology, in order to allow for individuals to experience the human conditioning in a new manner.

“By creating paintings that are multispectral, it allows for viewers to see the work with their eyes on the visible spectrum, and then also begin to experience the work with their mind’s eye and understand that there is fluorescence in the shortwave infrared. I do this by creating paint at the molecular level,” says Cohen, whose work has led him to a feature art exhibit: Nanocarbons through the Artist’s Lens at the 235th ECS Meeting.

He says by creating a chemical conversation with his art, people are forced to pause and look closer as they move around the art piece. He achieves this by creating surfaces that shift when engaged by the viewer.

“I think we live in a very fast-paced world. I think that art has the opportunity to help people appreciate things in a different manner and not necessarily in a manner of consumption but in a matter of introspection,” says Cohen.

He hopes his art will also allow people to extend their visions and experiences.

“For me, this heightened layer that I am unlocking for the senses adds a level to the art and science for which new meaning and understanding can be realized,” says Cohen.

Cohen’s work will be on display in the Lone Star B/C at the Dallas Sheraton Convention Center on Monday, May 27 from 1800-2000h and Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29 from 1400-2000h.

Cohen will also be presenting his abstract, “Nanocarbons through the Artist’s Lens,” which was inspired by his time in the lab mixing carbon nanomaterials.

Cohen explains that these qualities of carbon nanomaterials have been under-explored for the development of artistic applications, and his use of carbon nanotube-based pigments for application to paper and other solid substrates with optimal fluorescence in the infrared has led to some unique discoveries.

Hear his talk on Wednesday, May 29 at the Dallas Sheraton Convention Center from 1200-1220h to get an in-depth look at the science behind Cohen’s art.

For may information on Cohen, you may also read his paper “Graphene Art,” here.

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