between Art and Science

Issue 37 November 2017

How can we understand collaborations between Artists and Scientists?

“In this article I will explore some of the tools that exist for understanding interdisciplinary research and how they can be applied to collaborations between artists and scientists.”

Eleanor S. Armstrong researches collaboration between artists and scientists, to understand the working relationships, practices and circumstances that help collaborations succeed. She is currently a PhD candidate at UCL, and previously studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Art and Science at Central Saint Martins.

Reflecting on successful collaborations: Spit Crystal

“During the past decades art seems to have taken on a new function. Not only it has the potential to communicate scientific knowledge but it also has the ability to introduce new topics of research and points of view that contribute to the advancement of contemporary science. The experience and skills of the artist bring a new perspective into research that facilitates innovation and new ideas. ‘Spit Crystal’ was a project proposed by Ines Camara Leret, a conceptual artist. She collaborated with scientists at the Dental Institute and Professor Brian Sutton and Alkistis Mitropoulou from the crystallography department at King’s College London.

Judit Agui is a science communicator based in Berlin and trained in London. Her background in Neuroscience and History of Art inspired her to study the link between Art and Science.

The Tissue Culture & Art Project

The Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A), (an on-going research and development project initiated in 1996) was set to explore the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. We are investigating our relationships with the different gradients of life through the construction/growth of a new class of object/being – that of the Semi-Living. These are parts of complex organisms which are sustained alive outside of the body and coerced to grow in predetermined shapes. These evocative objects are a tangible example that brings into question deep rooted perceptions of life and identity, concept of self, and the position of the human in regard to other living beings and the environment. We are interested in the new discourses and new ethics/epistemologies that surround issues of partial life and the contestable future scenarios they are offering us.

Account of a Collision

“The collaboration between Dr Daniel Crow, physicist and Dr Charles Ogilvie, artist, began at the Royal College of Art in 2010. The Royal College of Art and Imperial College had arranged an art/science “speed dating event” to aid postgraduate students in finding potential collaborators. The event extended across fine and applied art and was attended by several hundred students……..A few minutes into their ‘date,’ Charles and Daniel decided they’d had enough. Instead, they would go to the bar and have a beer by themselves. This somewhat frustrated response to the huge catchall of Art/Science collaboration helps to contextualise their early projects together – as we will see.”

Charles Ogilvie is a London based multimedia artist and graduate of the Royal College of Art who has completed a PhD by practice at Oxford University exploring outsider art and outsider science.

Daniel Crow studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and completed his PhD in theoretical physics at Imperial College London in 2013. His current research focusses on the mathematical treatment of whole systems methods in global energy modelling

Parallax: Perspectives in Astronomy and Photography

“Over the past decade, I have been exploring the links between science, photography and philosophy. This body of research has involved collaborations between myself and a number of scientific institutions. In this article, I will share a number of collaborations with a number of scientific institutions that have led to developments in my own research, and further afield.”

Melanie King is an artist and curator with a specific focus on astronomy. She is co-Director of super/collider, Lumen Studios and the London Alternative Photography Collective. Melanie is currently studying towards a practice based PhD in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art.

Nine-tenths of the iceberg: research as the unseen component of artists’ work

Since 2014, the writers of this article have been studying the relationship between Art and Science (A&S) practitioners as part of an AHRC Innovation Award, Metamorphoses.  Sarah Craske is an artist, while Charlotte Sleigh is a scholar in a field known as Science and Technology Studies (STS), a loose grouping of historians, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists and literary theorists, all of whom turn their critical humanist skills towards the sciences.

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science – Otavio Schipper & Sergio Krakowski

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science (KLAS) is an Artist in Residence program of the Max Planck Society. The innovative artist residency program brought professional artists into high-quality research groups and, by doing so, established a bridge between art, science and society. Knowledge Link through Art & Science (KLAS) fosters ArtSci exchanges and trans/disciplinary innovation and education whilst also creating a link between Synthetic Biology research groups in leading institutions.

Otavio Schipper is an artist with a degree in physics who, through the presentation of ready-made objects such as antique telegraph machines, tuning forks, eyeglasses, elevator cabins and electric poles, connects past physical worlds with our present mental landscapes.

Sergio Krakowski is a New York City-based musician and composer who has a prominent career both as a jazz instrumentalist and a contemporary sound artist. As a sound artist, Sergio collaborates with Otavio Schipper since 2008, with whom he created the sound installation ‘Mechanical Unconscious’, a robotic piece for telegraphs, synthetic voices, telephonic sounds and a light bulb.

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science – Charles Cotton

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science (KLAS) is an Artist in Residence program of the Max Planck Society. The innovative artist residency program brought professional artists into high-quality research groups and, by doing so, established a bridge between art, science and society. Knowledge Link through Art & Science (KLAS) fosters ArtSci exchanges and trans/disciplinary innovation and education whilst also creating a link between Synthetic Biology research groups in leading institutions.

Dr. Charles Cotton is a biochemist working on synthetic metabolism in bacteria. In his current position at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology (Germany) he is designing and implementing new pathways for the assimilation of one-carbon units in E. coli, with the aim of developing hybrid electrochemical-biological solutions to carbon dioxide capture and energy storage.

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science – Tom Robinson

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science (KLAS) is an Artist in Residence program of the Max Planck Society. The innovative artist residency program brought professional artists into high-quality research groups and, by doing so, established a bridge between art, science and society. Knowledge Link through Art & Science (KLAS) fosters ArtSci exchanges and trans/disciplinary innovation and education whilst also creating a link between Synthetic Biology research groups in leading institutions.

Dr. Tom Robinson obtained his first degree in Physics at Imperial College London. After wanting to broaden his scientific interests but still utilised his background in Physics, he completed an interdisciplinary PhD between Chemistry, Physics and Biology. His last postdoc position was at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, and since early 2016 has been an independent research group leader funded via the MaxSynBio network.

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science – Agnes Meyer-Brandis

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science (KLAS) is an Artist in Residence program of the Max Planck Society. The innovative artist residency program brought professional artists into high-quality research groups and, by doing so, established a bridge between art, science and society. Knowledge Link through Art & Science (KLAS) fosters ArtSci exchanges and trans/disciplinary innovation and education whilst also creating a link between Synthetic Biology research groups in leading institutions.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis is a German artist based in Berlin. Her artistic research leans in the boundary between fiction and science, with a highly poetic approach.

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science – Alex de Vries

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science (KLAS) is an Artist in Residence program of the Max Planck Society. The innovative artist residency program brought professional artists into high-quality research groups and, by doing so, established a bridge between art, science and society. Knowledge Link through Art & Science (KLAS) fosters ArtSci exchanges and trans/disciplinary innovation and education whilst also creating a link between Synthetic Biology research groups in leading institutions.

Dr Alex de Vries is a Lecturer/Post-doc at Molecular Dynamics Group at University of Groningen. Dr De Vries works with a “Computational Microscope” that is able to visualize the motions of the molecules of life and their interactions with a model for biomolecular simulations.

On my FEAT

Pinar Yoldas is a Turkish-born designer-artist-researcher currently based in Michigan, USA. She works in the area of biological sciences and digital technology creating multi-disciplinary works including architectural installations, kinetic sculpture, sound, video and drawing. Her focus is on post-humanism, eco-nihilism, anthropocene and feminist technoscience. She was involved in a collaborative project, Future and Emerging Art and Technologies (FEAT), between leading international artists and European scientists.

CRITICAL CONNECTIONS: Connecting Art, Design and STEM

The Critical Connections symposium was held at Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Creative Industries Precinct in March 2017. The symposium provided a platform for thinkers working across art, design and STEM to articulate key issues and share interdisciplinary strategies, via four panels: Research, Learning & Teaching, Ethics, and Cultural Engagement. This article provides an overview of each panellist’s key arguments and insight into current viewpoints that require further scrutiny.