SciArt Magazine - All Issues - Page 43

DIALOGUE The Future of Science-Art Collaborations By Suzanne Anker Lorentz CenterWorkshop Participant & Contributor Bringing together an international group of artists, scientists, museum curators, art historians, and philosophers, the Lorentz Center (Leiden, the Netherlands) hosted a five-day workshop in October of this year on the future of art-science collaborations. The aim of the workshop was to try to create “a survival guide for artists and scientists.” Several key topics were addressed, namely: Why collaborate between these two distinct fields? What is to be gained? Is there a third, overlapping field sometimes referred to as “artscience” that should be considered? What criteria are to be used in assessing the value of the work produced? The format of the workshop had three tiers: a morning presentation by one of the organizers, followed by divisions into subgroups based on self-selected themes. Each subgroup would present their findings to the entire coterie of participants for further discussion. In the evening, a public program of lectures took place in participating institutions such as the Hortus Botanicus, Open Wetlab (part of the Waag Sciety) in Amsterdam, the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague, and the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden. We also visited an exhibition of winners of the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award (DA4GA), a combined initiative of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative, the Centre for Society and Genomics and the Waag Society. Howard Boland’s Living Mirror (in collaboration with Laura Cinti) was granted one of the awards (Boland was also a participant in the Lorentz conference). Of particular note was a visit to the workshop from Dr. Huub de Groot, a professor of biophysical organic chemistry at Leiden University. Dr. Groot, who works on artificial photosynthesis, thought that it was an excellent idea to have artists working in labs because they function as probes in the societal debates concerning science and technology. Some of the questions proposed by the participants included a belief that such collaborations create an expansion of knowledge for the artist and the scientist as well as an essential visual knowledge exchange. Other topics focused on new materials, processes, and techniques which collaborations of this nature require on both ends. Several artists talked about their own experiences in collaborations with scientists and the logistics of expectations, funding, and resources—since such collaborations engage in real-time experience they require a meaningful transdisciplinary dialogue. Finally, there were issues raised about the differences between ethics and morality in BioArt, a freedom/power dyad related to the arts and sciences practices, and fundamental questions concerning epistemological models for each discipline. In addition, the question of artistic research, the studio based Ph.D, BioArt vs bio-design, and DIY Citizen Science were raised. Expert meetings such as this one offer a rich array of information and dialogue. The artscience collaboration continues, however, to be a contested territory on both sides of the equation. As more and more interest grows both in the public and university sphere,