UCSB Professor George Legrady’s digital art was chosen to be displayed for the world to see in the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic games.

A professor of art and media arts at UCSB, Legrady was chosen to exhibit a segment of his work in the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad Festival. His piece is one of over 40 digital art installations being featured in C.O.D.E. Live, an 18-day event, held from Feb. 4 through Feb. 21 that showcases art created using digital technology.

To be exhibited is Legrady’s “We Are Stardust,” a two-screen projection installation that contains data images shot by the infrared lenses of the earth-orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope.

From 2003 to 2008, the telescope mapped over 36,034 observations while orbiting the earth. The first projection will depict deep space as seen by NASA scientists through the SST, while the second will be interactive with the audience, capturing each individual’s thermal radiation with an infrared camera. The camera imitates the pattern of movement taken by the SST in space, within the realm of the gallery. According to a press release, Javier Villegas, a doctoral student in UCSB’s Dept. of Media Arts & Technology, conceptualized the engineering portion of the project.

The purpose of the exhibit is to acknowledge future space explorations and invite the audience to become involved in the discovery, Legrady said.

“The project is similar to when the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch collaborated with America to map out the geography of the planet — except now we are mapping out the limits of space,” Legrady said. “Each scientist only knows what they themselves are looking at with the telescope. The coupling and mapping out of what they have discovered lets us understand what they have missed.”

UCSB art professor Lisa Jevbratt, who works with Legrady in the field of data visualization, praised his work as innovative and valuable in the evolution of future scientific studies.

“I think it’s beautiful that artists work with scientific matter and create different ways of understanding it,” Jevbratt said. “George’s project could be important for many scientists. It makes us look at the intersection of art and science it in a very different way.”

Professor Legrady will be offering a course in the Spring that allows students to use similar technology in the classroom. To sign up, students can contact Legrady at legrady@arts.ucsb.edu.