[spectre] Arts and Sciences

Jose-Carlos Mariategui jcm at ata.org.pe
Sat Feb 18 10:13:04 CET 2006


I see your point but I am not sure if the recent bioart movement has to do
with the investment in biotechnology on certain countries, specially if we
define bioart not as a sophisticated laboratory-like approach, but more a
DIY home-based practice.  It is true that the value of media art is to give
a critical dialog around these practices and in that sense is interesting
the DIY practice versus the formal laboratory practice (and we should
analyze both their differences as well as their similarities).

My point is that if bioart is being developed in counties such as Australia,
UK, US and Canada are we promoting the DIY approach or just devonting media
practice to an elitist realm, or even worst towards a sophisticated
laboratory formal practice in the arts?   As somebody who came to media art
from the basic sciences I can tell you that biotechnology is fast-growing
and has been growing in developing countries for centuries and there are
also interesting approaches including many DIY practices.  What we should do
is to promote bioart in those countries (some of them are germplasm-rich
developing) instead of just focusing in just a small bunch of developed

Best regards,


on 2/18/06 2:47 AM, Anna Munster at A.Munster at unsw.edu.au wrote:

> As someone involved in the actual conference (although not writing the
> blurb), I'd like to weigh in on this discussion and basically agree with
> what Trebor has stated in his post. I think there are specific issues to
> do with geographic locale and governmentality that affect the terms and
> conditions of the art-science debate.
> In particular, I think the issue of funding in an Australian context
> (which is where the conference is being hosted) has had a big influence of
> where artists are now forced to seek their livelihhood. Similar issues of
> funding and research that Trebor has elaborated in his post affect
> Australian artists and therefore the relationship of art and science
> within Australia.
> Big assertions about art-science collaboration are probably useless but we
> can certainly say that there has been increased collaboration between
> artists and life sciences within the last 5 years - bioart is an emerging
> process/genre/movement that indicates this. Interestingly enough, bioart
> seems to be coming mainly out of Australia, UK, US and Canada. We don't
> need to dig too deep here - all these countries have substantial
> goevernement investment in biotechnologies...and of course, there is some
> creative capitol spillover when this level of investment occurs and
> artists are able to exploit opportunities for limited amounts of time (as
> they did during the 1990s in these countries with 'new media').
> I think the point is not whether art-sci  is happening but why, how and
> what might be done with it. Especially, how can artists within a critical,
> reflexive media art tradition deploy these strategies in relation to the
> politics of the life sciences...
> In addition, although I think the kind of bland blurb for the conference
> is not great, I recommend people go in and have a look at the session
> descriptions and at who is speaking....for example Steve Kurtz is a
> keynote.
> The conference is  reasonably well thought out and does in fact put
> artists and scientists in the same space and try to get them to address
> each other, although I'm sure everyone is familiar with all the problems
> involved there.
> However, in the session I'm responsible for –'New Languages' – all the
> speakers in fact start from a position that says: " Science and art don't
> actually speak the same language, so then what do we mean by
> collaboration? What is the mythology created around this idea by using a
> 'language of collaboration'? Is a 'communication' paradigm useful for
> describing art-science working strategies or is there a problem here that
> glides over crucial problems of translation, slippage, praxis etc?'. Other
> sessions deal with the politics of legitimation ie how do artists use
> science to legitimise their work etc. So I think you might find that the
> content of this conference is not some kind of generalised crap about
> happy art and science people!
> cheers
> Anna
>> Andreas wrote:
>>> (most of the 'gravitation' mentioned here might be coupled with a
>>> centrifugal force, in which case it would be interesting to
>>> understand who or what is keeping the two, art and science, in each
>>> other's orbit.)
>> In the face of resource scarcity the arts have a hard time! This is the
>> (or at
>> least -one) backdrop for the flirt between the arts and sciences. In the
>> U.S.
>> the business logic of the university moves the largest part of academic
>> funding
>> to the sciences. Universities see this investment as seed funding to
>> attract
>> corporate involvement aiming for large-scale profits that so far have
>> largely
>> not materialized. In light of the absence of much significant cultural
>> funding
>> outside of academia this trend matters a great deal in Bush country. In
>> the
>> battle over resources the humanities have no chance of winning and the
>> funding
>> for these areas of inquiry may increasingly be found only at
>> long-established
>> niversities who can still afford the luxury. In the context of this
>> funding
>> dynamic a widespread scientification of the arts kicks in. Cultural
>> producers
>> battling over grants adapt to science formats. This is not always their
>> genuine
>> choice. Their work is suddenly framed as 'research' and 'case studies' are
>> being
>> carried out. A Ph.D. is often necessary to apply for national science
>> grants.
>> The noticeable interest in practice-based doctoral degrees is more often
>> than
>> not related to this funding logic. This is at least one rational for the
>> centrifugal force that you allude to...
>> Trebor
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> Dr. Anna Munster
> Senior Lecturer,
> Postgraduate Co-ordinator
> School of Art History and Theory
> College of Fine Arts
> University of New South Wales
> P.O Box 259
> Paddington,
> NSW 2021
> ph: 612 9385 0741
> fx: 612 9385 0615
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