There's a mass of great artwork down in Chelsea now, and at least a couple of shows that will be intriguing for fans of science and SF.
To start with there's an exhibit of photos and scientific objects at the Pace Gallery by Hiroshi Sugimoto, known for his haunting photos of wax figures of famous people among many other things. This exhibit, titled "The Day After", has a whiff of post-apocalypticism about it. The center of the exhibit is a small Tesla coil spitting out plasmatic sparks, and the Pace gallery is lined with photos of lightning. The gallery also has two other rooms. One has large photos of the ocean, the horizon lost in mist, as of a world beginning to grow life. The other has photos of science museum dioramas of the early oceans, with a piece of the Allende meteorite and a beautiful fossil of an early ocean dwelling plant.
While the show is interesting on its own terms, it's perhaps a bit thin on artistic value. The other show delivers all: at the Tanya Bonakdar gallery a show of work by Tomas Saraceno. The gallery space is taken over by a riot of thin black polyester rope held in midair by nearly invisible fishing line, making shapes that look organic: perhaps complex molecules or cellular spaces. Each piece uses subtly different thicknesses of line to give the whole an amazing rhythm. One of my favorites is titled "Space Elevator/Spark 460" reminds me of tree or a neural dendrite, although canted on its side pointing at the wall of the gallery space it also reminds me of Bill Viola's wonderful piece "The Theater of Memory".
Viola hung lights in the branches of a dead tree, and its roots hang out the back, while before it memories play on a screen. Viola's piece is more of a video piece, as fits his interest, while Saraceno's is more about material, tension and space.
Unfortunately there weren't any shows of Bill Viola in Chelsea on this trip. Maybe later.
Other great shows included a huge retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg at Gagosian, a wonderful show entitled "Letters" by Brice Marden at Matthew Marks, and ur-sculptural photos of water towers by Bernd and Hilla Becher at Sonnabend. The latter few are perhaps less suited to those of a scientific bent, but anyway I found them well worth the trip.
I almost forgot a couple of very good shows at David Zwirner: Michael Heizer minimalist works from the 1960s and 70s, and Luc Tuymans's show called "Corporate". Heizer is mostly known for his massive earthworks, which I have only seen in photograph but look very impressive. Tuymans is a name I've heard but never seen before. These are wonderful, soft-focus paintings on a large scale, grand and dream-like.
Both are worth seeing, as is a more difficult show there by Raymond Pettibon, "Hard in the Paint". The latter show is harder edged and more sociopolitical in feel, and so I suspect more liable to garner attention. When we were there it was full of art students taking a tour and snapping photos.