Art - Science Relations

Science ↔ Art Relationalities by Olivier Perriquet and Bill Seaman/ Art >< Science. An Ontology by Florian Wiencek and Timothy J. Senior/ Theoretical Discourse on “Art, Science and Technology Collaboration” and its Historical Development by Lioudmila Voropai/ Technological Art and Innovation Dialogues by Jill Fantauzza-Coffin/ Sky Knowledge by Suzette Worden/ A Myriad of Vibrant Phenomena. The Hidden Worlds of Audiovisual Art-Science by Marco Mancuso
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
Peter Moosgaard
Olivier Perriquet
Florian Wiencek
Lioudmila Voropai
Jill Fantauzzacoffin
Suzette Worden
Bill Seaman
Timothy J. Senior
Marco Mancuso

Science ↔ Art Relationalities

by Olivier Perriquet and Bill Seaman

Science has historically divided itself into disciplines. Some scientific disciplines have a hierarchy of knowledge acquisition e.g. mathematics, physics, and biology. The study of art also has esoteric topics, although it is less easy to articulate the study of art in a fixed hierarchy, given the multiplicity of approaches that make up its “family resemblences” in the sense of Wittgenstein. As science moves away from single disciplines into research that combines multiple scientific fields, it is less easy to define one fixed hierarchy. Here we have jumps and bridges between different hierarchies, suggesting  dynamic heterarchy born in the intersticies that exist between these multiple hierarchies. Yet, we seek to suggest a multi-perspective approach that also explores extra-scientific knowledge. Thus scienceand the artsprovide differing perspectives that can be brought into dynamic relationality. Here truth does not belong to one discipline but becomes illuminating through dynamic relation. Building a cross-disciplinary dynamic heterarchy out of the traditional hierarchies raises concrete problems of language (and categorization) that anyone who is used to transdisciplinary approaches has already experienced. The «babelization» of knowledge, when it comes to (collective or individual) awareness, reveals how critical the situation of hierarchies is, if no effort is made to fertilize the disciplines by criss-crossing their knowledge and – we emphasize – their language. The genetic metaphor speaks for itself: when species have diverged too much, no mating is even possible.The notion of a bridging or symbiotic metaphore may make more sense here. Yet we also point to the limits of metaphor in reflecting the complexity of the thoughts we are discussing. A crisis in the sciences has been often claimed in the last decade, where mutual disregard between disciplines having an underlying hierarchical knowledge acquisition structure, namely here «hard»-sciences such as mathematics or physics and post-modern philosophy are contrasted with the heterarchical nature of the arts. We will present a series of ideas related to contemporary and historical art↔science relationality. We will discuss a taxomonomy of Art Science relations.

Art >< Science. An Ontology

by Florian Wiencek and Timothy J. Senior

Historically, notions of art and science have fluctuated in the degree of their [in]compatibility. With the re-emergence of art as a tool through which biological knowledge is being explored, unexpected relationships between traditional scientific and artistic practices are beginning to materialize. Beyond the incorporation of scientific imagery into works of art, the increasing commercialization of research technologies within the fields of molecular and cell biology now permits artists to use biological research methods in their pursuit of artistic form and expression. From transgenic chimeras to semi-living ‘bio-constructions’, artists are producing works that transcend the boundaries of these two cultures of inquiry, allowing artists to explore ethical and social implications surrounding scientific research. This idea of a ‘third culture’ further raises the question of whether art and science practices can inform each other in a more mutually symbiotic way; notions of the ‘performative’ in science (exemplified in the work of Hans Diebner), as a methodological tool for exploring behavior in simulated complex biological and mathematical systems, represents one such striking direction.

Within the increasingly diverse body of Art-Science inspired work, boundaries are being crossed at the levels of conception, method/process, publication as well as reception. To better understand these points of cross-over in contemporary work, a new ontology is required that effectively captures these multiple conceptual, contextual, content and time based properties and processes, something we are currently developing. For this project we will be building on V2’s research on ‘Capturing Unstable Media’ (2004), as well as the research of Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research.

For artists, and indeed scientists, active in this area, a greater awareness of such relationships may be highly beneficial not only in the development of new works but also in devising new methods for the communication and re-exploration of the scientific process; its premises, processes and observations.

Theoretical Discourse on “Art, Science and Technology Collaboration” and its Historical Development

by Lioudmila Voropai

The paper analyses historical development of a discourse on “Art, Science and Technology collaboration” from the 1960s till the present. It reviews the key concepts used for a theoretical and cultural legitimization of this collaboration, and implications of the “collaboration”-discourse for a media art practice. The “collaboration”-paradigm had a pivotal role for a theoretical conceptualization of media art itself and brought into being a common in the late 80ies definition of media art as an “interdisciplinary synthesis of art, science and technology”. On the one hand it endowed media art with an ‘alchemistic’ charm, which was especially attractive for an affinity, common at that time, to Foucauldian ‘cabinets of curiosities’ and other pre-modern forms of the organisation of knowledge. On the other hand, it revived within a media art discourse a rooted in antiquity conception of art as producing téchne, where art is considered as a set of practical skills and ‘know-how’.

Technological Art and Innovation Dialogues

by Jill Fantauzza-Coffin

A critical mass of technological art is now visible through international exhibitions, public interventions, symposia, and specialized academic programs. At the same time, many nations are redefining the terms of technological innovation in ways that include funding technological art in their programs. These include:

 • a shift in focus among many European countries from efficiency and expertise-based economies to creativity-fueled economies;

• institutional discussion in the U.S. of an expansion of the traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculums to STEAM (STEM plus arts) curriculums; and

• world-wide initiatives to establish IT-enabled creative clusters as a basis for innovation.

Yet when it comes to articulating the relationships between art and technology within such institutional contexts, we are often left with a focus on the “aesthetic”, “humanistic”, and “creative” contributions of art practice to technological innovation. In this talk I argue that these institutions would benefit from more complex articulations of the relationships between art and technology. Technological art amplifies certain characteristics of postmodern art, specifically its tendencies toward destabilization, experience-based interaction, and contextual contingency. In contrast, technological engineering foregrounds stabilization over its more destabilizing aspects. The practice of engineering is to stabilize natural forces so that they act reliably within a device. This emphasis on stabilization extends beyond technological reliability to social and cultural stabilization as well, so that when we are acting within a reliable threshold of a technology, be it a bridge or an iPhone, we are also stabilizing reliable cultural practices. Technological art acts outside of these reliable thresholds, thus inverting the stabilizing mission of technology and foregrounding its destabilizing tendencies.

 Truly incorporating interdisciplinary art and technology practice into institutional contexts means admitting the dynamics of stabilization and destabilization within the dialogues of innovation. By allowing technological art to be a churn in the system instead of a well-behaved contributor to sunny-day scenarios of creativity and innovation, we open up new dialogues about what technology is and can be. Such dialogues would come as these institutions face the challenges of climate change, increasing competition for world resources, and a generation of innovations involving populations existing beyond first world commercial agendas.

Sky Knowledge: the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as a focus for art-science collaborations

by Suzette Worden

Radio astronomy is being developed globally through the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. The SKA will enable astronomers to observe the most distant objects in the Universe, measure Galaxy evolution and study the phenomenon of dark energy in a project of unprecedented scale. Currently two ‘radio quiet’ sites, one in Western Australia and the other in South Africa are being assessed for its location. The decision is expected in 2012 with construction taking place from 2014 to 2024.

For the chosen site, the project means enormous scientific and technological investment, with potential long-term benefits reaching far beyond the immediate scientific agenda. There are already significant scientific developments with high levels of government support. How will the SKA be understood in a broader cultural context? How is the project being communicated to audiences beyond the scientific community?

Educational projects are being run through the SKA websites of Western Australia and South Africa [;]. There are imaginative visualisations of the project using new technologies for conventional illustration and within realtime interactive environments. For example, in 2008, Paul Bourke modelled the proposed sites of the SKA and the ‘pilot’ Australian SKA Pathfinder Project (ASKAP), allowing the project to be more closely identified with a proposed location. []

In 2009, as part of the International Year of Astronomy, the ‘Ilgarijiri’ Project (‘things belonging to the sky’ in the Wajarri language) brought artists and scientists together in a collaborative project between Aboriginal artists from the Yamaji Country, in Mid-Western Australia, and radio astronomers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), based in Perth, Western Australia. []. The Wajarri Yamatji people are the traditional owners of the proposed Western Australia site.

This paper will examine the potential of the SKA as a catalyst for art-science conversations and collaborative projects. What is the likely benefit for different communities? Will the SKA become part the popular imagination? What metaphors will be developed for the SKA, to demonstrate its capacity to excite and be understood? How will the data collected, made available, be understood visually? Can it be transformed into aesthetic experiences to be enjoyed by a broad audience?

A Myriad of Vibrant Phenomena. The Hidden Worlds of Audiovisual Art-Science

by Marco Mancuso

From studies of scientists like Haeckel, Julia, Mandelbrot, D'Arcy, Turing and some others, Mother Nature is characterized at the root by a matrix of numbers and mathematical expressions involving a series of physical, optical, chemical-physical, electromagnetic and nanometric phenomena influencing its forms, species, colours, sounds and structures. If science is considered an organic complex of knowledge obtained through a methodical procedure, capable of providing a precise description of the real aspect of things and the laws by which the phenomena happen, and if the rules governing such process are generally called "scientific method", then the experimental observation of a natural event, the formulation of a general hypothesis about such event and the possibility of checking the hypothesis through subsequent observations become fundamental elements in modern scientific research.

What it is today recognized as "immersive art-science" is a form of creative expression meant to rise above the notion of art as abstract representation, in behalf of a multi-sensorial experience.  Immersivity awakens a synesthetic awareness both in the mental and in the physic space.A myriad of vibrant phenomena, usually beyond the observer's reach, are instead made reachable through an accurate psychophysical conditioning.

The purpose of this lecture is to give an historical and critical overview on the observation of sceintists and artists of energetic phenomena behind natural audiovisual forms, finding a connection with contemporary digital research, accompained by the screening Hidden Worlds that make evidence of the critical reflection upon the existing connection between audiovisual art, energy and science on the borders of cinema, video and digital. The goal here is to create aesthetical fascinating objects and also to invite the public to go beyond ordinary perception's border.