Friday, October 30, 2015

[Yasmin_discussions] why as a scientist do i invest time and energy in art-science activities


this is roger malina chiming in with one of my reasons as a scientist engaging
and investing time in what are now called art-science activities

My training has been in physics, optics, astrophysics (pHD) and my scientific
activities have been in space astrophysics ( building space telescopes
and analysing
the data to make discoveries in a newly opened band of the light
spectrum- the EUV).
I also have training and experience in research management and administration.
I need to also admit that I am an aethist and a 'positivist' in that
as an astronomer
I think there is an external world to us that we can understand using
the scientific method

I have a long history of art science activities, that originated in a
family business which
i inherited- the leonardo journal.

Three years ago i changed careers from astrophysics to art-science
research. Our ArtSciLab ( )
is engaged in a project that involves scientists and artists
collaborating to a) help the scientists
make discoveries that they would not otherwise make, b) and the
artists developed new forms
of artistic expression that appropriate scientific knowldge and data
as an artistic raw material.

The current team includes a three neurobiologists, two composers, a
sound artist, two game designer
, an art and technology PhD student, a researcher in user
experience design and myself. Oh yes an an art historian. We are
developing data exploration tools, and also developing
data sonification as a technology of attention and performing the data.

I am personally convinced that we are in a 'crisis' of
"representation", in that as scientists we are
still using data illustration and visualisation techniques, and data
presentation and exploration tools,
that are based on paradigms developed over the last two centuries (
edward tufte is the end of this line)
and that with our new relationship to large data sets we are dealing
with a situation that requires new
methods. Dan Boorstin called this an epistemological inversion- we are
now 'meaning poor"
and 'data rich". I think that there is an emerging generation of
artists and humanities scholars that
represent a new data expertise that scientists dont have ( my
colleague max schich , the art historian, published an article in science
that is an examplar )-

another exemplar is artist and designer Santiago Ortiz:
who has developed a whole tool kit and approaches :

scientists have no choice but to collaborate with these artists,
designers and humanities scholars to solve their problems in data representation

so the reason that as a scientist i invest time in energy in art
science collaborations is:
a) to make scientific discoveries that would not otherwise be made
b) create contemporary art works that use scientifc data and knowledge
as the raw material for
art making that reflects our current cultural realities

roger malina
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