Brevia: A new link between art and science, or towards hackerspaces’ funding


Bacteria on the beachAlt. Art-Sci is the phrase coming frequently in mind when some people talk about establishing a link between art and science. A recent joint workshop gathering representatives from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) but also researchers, faculty members and artists discussed about this indispensable link between art and science.

This first workshop focused on computer science and its relationship with art. The next one will be on biological sciences and art¹.

Why discussing the interaction between art and science again and again? It has been a hot topic since ever. Ok, it was easier for people like Goethe to be both at a time than for someone of us, if we think about the quantity of knowledge one needs to accumulate in order to be excellent in both scientific and artistic domains. However, in the “digital era”, this is partly true.

Think about all those kids who grew up and will grow up with a computer when we were playing Lego. The so called “generation 2.0”, you know. Here is the main point: nowadays, a lot of artwork is created and distributed by digital means, so to say. There are people from this “digital generation” who make happen new ways of personal expression and, on the other hand, there are people who adapt their perception to these works. The NEA reported these changes in a study titled Audience 2.0 How Technology Influences Arts Participation.

What was underlined during this workshop is that a great amount of this new creativity comes from highly dynamic and quickly evolving communities and informal settings from not-for-profit groups, hackers and various “makers”. The workshop addressed thus the question how to come in touch with these people and make them cross more conventional, institutional programs.

What for? As Roger Malina writes:

We need to “innovate in innovation” and find other approaches to work in the new emerging networked culture. We need to look at where the most exciting creativity is occurring, and we need to look at the burning issues in our communities and how harnessing new couplings of science, engineering, and cultural approaches can be part of creating a sustainable society.

This sounds nice and this sounds as funding programs for hackerspaces. Will they survive to close interactions with classical university and design school programs or will they get institutionalized…?

¹ The picture illustrating this posting is a beach scene drawn with an 8-color palette of bacterial colonies expressing fluorescent proteins derived from GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) and the red-fluorescent coral protein dsRed. Artwork by Nathan Shaner, photography by Paul Steinbach, created in the lab of Roger Tsien in 2006. It is an example of BioArt work. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)