ART AND SCIENCE, MUTUALLY
Collaborations between artists and scientists are certainly not a new phenomenon, particularly when the aim is to make scientific data accessible or visual for a public - among other forms, scientific illustrations are a perfect example. Recently, however, resources aimed at developing art and science collaborations have expanded exponentially, from the STEM to STEAM movement and UCSC’s OpenLab, both aimed at bringing art and science together in educational environments, to Story Collider, which brings the art of storytelling together with scientists and science experiences, and Artisans Asylum, which provides space, resources, and education on craft and technology from crocheting to building robots. Other groups support and promote research projects and artwork, like the Australian Network for Art and Technology and the NYC-based Art Science Research Laboratory. Cynthia Pannucci’s Art/Science Collaborations Inc (ASCI) provides an online forum for people interested in science/art collaborations to post calls for work/projects, conferences, and meetups.
New to the scene, Richard Lowenberg’s Scientist Artist Research Collaboration (SARC), based in New Mexico, aims to bring together artists and scientists for somewhat structured collaborative explorations. Scientist/artist collaborators can take part in seminars, a commissioning program, a festival, or interactions through social media and publishing. A similar project, based locally at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Oceans at MIT, Synergy produces science communication through its work. The results of their first collaborative project, the amazing Ocean Stories, is currently showing at the Boston Museum of Science. The project stretches beyond the museum, with the hopes of expanding the impact of the science and art. Synergy’s website includes short videos about each collaboration project, information about the artists and scientists, and links to articles and media coverage. Their new social media presence, too, is aimed at allowing them to network beyond their impressive local contacts, so that they can share the results of the fantastic collaborative art and science projects more broadly.
Watery Depths from collaboration between Bryan McFarlane and Jill McDermott. http://synergyexhibit.org/press/
For the scientists involved, taking part in the Ocean Stories collaborative project has meant that their research has now been communicated through the work itself in whole new ways and to brand new audiences. Not only do these projects take the research out of the lab and the field and into the museum, the gallery, the public space, but it also puts that research online through videos and articles on Synergy’s website, Facebook, and Twitter. Both scientists and artists benefit from these collaborations. Certainly participation in interdisciplinary projects helps scientists connect with the public, enabling them to disseminate their research through art, which can open up whole new channels of expression and interpretation. Artists, can learn about science and our world through these collaborations, and flex their communication skills in helping bring the research to their work.
The innovative modes of communication which result from art and science collaborations promise fascinating breakthroughs in scientific research, art and design, science communication, and public awareness and engagement with each of these fields. We can’t wait to see what comes next!
Photo Credit, TOP OF PAGE: Great Egret (Ardea alba) John James Audubon. From http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/03/audubons-birds-fly-again/?pid=6424
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