Monday, May 17, 2010

[Yasmin_discussions] Doing and Studying International Collaboration in the Sciences, Arts and the Humanities


For our collaboration topic, here is a underlying question: do artists
and scientists share
the same cultures of inquiry ? Sundar Sarukkai in his article
on Science and the Ethics of Curiosity which I have quoted several
times on yasmin:

Points out that scientific curiosity is often framed within
the following ethos:

Intellectual Honesty, Integrity, Epistemic Communism
Organized skepticism,Dis-interestedness
Impersonality, Universality

It seems to me that many artists do not share all these values,
and that when artists and scientists seek to collaborate
these cultural difference can create friction, sometimes productive
sometimes not.

in my talks i like to insist that artistic curiosity is often;

non universal : a work can be loaded with meaning in one
context and meaningless in another. There is a large discussion
against "universals" in art. In science there is no concept of locally
meaningful science.

Impersonal: whereas scientists seek to remove the personality
of the scientist from their work, artists often seem to ground the
work in their embodied specificity.

Disinterested: basic scientists like to have an intellectual distance between
their work and the sponsor of their work (how succesful they are is another

Many artists work on commissions where indeed the work is intended to be
situated within the framing of the institution or sponsor that funds the work.
eg the Bilbau museum is inseparable as a building from the ethos of the
Guggenheim Foundation. ( but of course scientists working on applications
are sponsor contextualised)

I know that I am over-generalising here, but there is much discussion
about the need for a "third culture' that somehow melds the scientific
and the artistic ( or even E O Wilson's concept of conscilience). I often
get very uncomfortable with these discussions, because it seems to me
there are valuable differences between the goals, values and methods
of scientists
and those of artists - and that often these implicit cultural
differences between
artists and scientists are not made explicit.

There is a large literature in the business world on what are called strategic
alliances= most collaborations between businesses fail, often because so
many implicit values are not made explicit before a collaboration is
entered into.

In the case of art science collaborations, many of them fail to be successful
from the point of view of one or both the art and science participants.

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