Dialogue in art and science

“Dialogue is not to communicate. It is much deeper. It addresses the blocks in communication, not merely to understand them, but to meet them directly” (David Bohm). In this article, Marina Wallace, Director of Artakt, discusses the new art&science collaborations in the project MitoSys: Lens on Life.

“…a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today.”   (Bohm, 1990)

Dialogues established in the field of art and science, through interdisciplinary projects, such as those established under the banner of the Wellcome Trust, the Arts Council, the Gulbenkian Foundation, Artakt at the University of the Arts, London, and other agencies, are subject to limitations that are similar in other interdisciplinary areas. The fundamental concepts that underpin interdisciplinary projects in art and science are of a nature that may are also useful for other interactions between different disciplines, using diverse approaches and aiming to create new meanings. Parallels and differences between professional activities and cultures are under the lens. Creativity, and issues of disciplinary rigour, are at the core of much collaboration in different subject areas. A fruitful Dialogue needs to be established to ensure a true exchange of ideas between artists and scientists. The idea of the Dialogue, as intended by physicist David Bohm (1917-1992), must be the leitmotif of any good interdisciplinary project.

“In a dialogue, when a person says something, the other person does not in general respond with exactly the same meaning as that seen by the first person. Rather, the meanings are only similar and not identical. Thus, when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he meant to say and what the other person understood.

On considering this difference, he may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both to his own views and to those of the other person. And so it can go backward and forward, with the continual emergence of a new content that is common to both participants. Thus, in a dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him. Rather, it may be said that the people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.“ (Bohm,1990)


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