Sunday, September 9, 2012

[Yasmin_discussions] Call for pioneers in collaboration between science/engineering and arts/design and humanities


Bronac Ferran is coordinating a SEAD white paper

looking at lessons learned by pioneers
in collaboration between science/engineering and arts/design/collaboration.

If you are such a pioneer- active in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and would like
to have your thoughts included in this white paper please contact
Bronac directly
or contact me at rmalina(at)


Coordinator: Bronac Ferran

Amnesia can dominate when it comes to building new forms of support
for art/science/technology research and practice. Despite practical
experiments and theoretical analysis stretching back for more than a
century, there is often a 'year zero' assumption – a sense of building
something entirely new. Structures and systems of support tend to come
and go with few if any signs of critical accumulation. This White
Paper will reference the lineage behind highly contemporary practices
and argue that accessing the critical wisdom of earlier pioneers
across arts and science borders is an important part of strengthening
the seemingly new. Often these pioneers have had migratory careers,
moving between institutions or even countries, which has contributed
to a sense of dispersal of knowledge and a lack of integration into
formal structures. We should explore some of the challenges involved
with drawing together distributed viewpoints, disparate processes and
(often) contrasting ideologies. We need to observe a continuum of
'praxis' alongside the joy in 'discontinuity' perfectly described by
Jonathan Benthall when he commented, writing in Studio International
in 1969, on how: ' discontinuities between science and modern
art'…are….'as interesting as their interactions'. Benthall also wisely
pinpointed the value of difference and divergence within SEAD
practices. In his view: 'there is no apparent correlation between the
stature of a given artist and the validity of his scientific
assumptions'. In 1969, also in Studio International, the great
artist-engineer Naum Gabo wrote about how he had seen little success
in terms of bringing together the arts and sciences. This leads to a
second very important challenge and question for this White Paper
which is to ask how might we choose to evaluate success across the
breadth of the terrain signified by a framework such as SEAD? Without
evaluative processes there can be no methodology for learning and
passing on wisdom. As curricula and reading lists are being formed to
underpin emerging Masters courses in 'art and science' might the SEAD
initiative finally help signpost a stable direction in this
productively unstable terrain? Is it feasible to produce a summative
assessment of what constitutes success in the interdisciplinary domain
and what might this mean for future institutions? How might art and
science pioneers now define success? How might the value of preceding
events and practitioners be more readily accessed? The SEAD community
is invited to contribute to the development of proposals to address
some of these fascinating challenges.

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