One third of the attendees at this weekend’s SciBarCamp in Toronto were visual artists and musicians. The aim of the event was to not only be the first Science BarCamp but also to bring together artists, scientists and technologists.
Impetus for Collaboration
Some assumptions about art and science seemed to underlie the conference sessions. The main assumption was that artists and scientists should collaborate, not just inform and inspire each others work, but collaborate. There was also the assumption that artists are interested in science and technology and in being involved as science and technology become more pervasive in society. Another assumption was that art-science collaboration is somehow quite obvious, necessary and desirable in ways that art-politics, art-economics, art-markets, art-education, art-sports, etc. are not.
Why would collaboration between art and science be obvious and natural? Abstractly, there seems to be some overlap in the goals of art and science regarding the need to create, explore, probe, understand, explain and inspire. Both also have a degree of inherent universality, a need to communicate and a use of concept and metaphor.
Concretely, there are other reasons why a collaboration of art and science would be natural:
- To provide useful information display of scientific results, even if only to scientific audiences, particularly given the very large and very small scales at which contemporary science is conducted
- To respond to the hastening pace of science and technology change making the role of artists as interpreters, translators, experiencers and arbiters more imperative. Artists have a key role in the discussion of science and technology’s impact on life and culture
- To facilitate the increasingly audio-visual multimedia world of today with streaming video, 3d web and virtual worlds all seeking innovative data display tools and metaphors
Towards meaningful collaboration…
Would an art BarCamp work? ArtBarCamp could be a standalone event or co-located at BarCamps or SciBarCamps. ArtBarCamp could have an emphasis on doing art in workshop formats, experiencing different kinds of art and talking about art. TED and SciBarCamp include artists and the audience has an opportunity to experience art, it would be wonderful to create art as well.