Friday, August 9, 2013


hi all,
I thought I would chime in. thanks for initiating this, it is an extremely interesting topic which resonates with what we are trying to do here in Toronto.
As part of the attempt of Subtle Technologies festival to branch out and offer programming throughout the year, I have been programming the ArtSciSalon (on and off since 2010), a forum for discussion involving artists and scientists, taking place at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Science (website at the bottom).

this is how it works (roughly):
events usually take place on the third week of each month. each guest does a presentation on his/her work. the most important part of the talk though is to address how one's work can land collaborative projects with people from the other discipline. we usually match one artist and one scientist to briefly present their work and to discuss issues they face and often (sometimes unknowingly) share as well as possible points of contact.

one of the goals is to explore various modes in which artists and scientists may collaborate and may benefit each other.
a few interesting things are happening during these events.

1) despite the different contexts and approaches they adopt, when facing each other and engaging in a respectful dialogue, participants increasingly converge onto the same plane. part of it is because of the diverse (and very inquisitive) audience they have to address, but part of it is also due to a genuine curiosity to discover common elements that might serve each other in their research.

2) among the participants, we have artists who wish to access laboratories in order to accomplish a specific project, and scientists who deem the work of artists necessary to the accomplishments of their scientific research. I find that this is the case in the field of biomedical sciences, scientific visualization, medical illustration and prosthetics design. I also find that the most successful dialogues are usually the most balanced, that is, that imply mutual exchange, where the results end up being successful not just for the scientist, but also for the artist.

I posted Roger's call for contribution on our mailinglist and I truly hope that some of the people I have in mind will decide to write something about it.

I am about to complete the programming for the fall-winter artscisalon series. yes, I find it sometimes difficult to convince the scientist to participate. issues involving department politics, lack of confidence about the ability to face artists or just busy schedules make this task very slow and labor intensive. However, in general, I find that most scientists I contacted thought their productivity would improve their own work as well as the artist's.
all this to say that I believe that it is not the desire that is missing here, but a sustainable process (and intermediaries) that allow dialogues to take place.

thanks for sending their comments and best of luck

roberta buiani
PhD communication and culture, York University
programmer ArtSci Salon
program advisor Subtle Technologies Festival

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