[spectre] Arts and Sciences

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Mon Feb 27 12:35:57 CET 2006

I imagine the response to Andreas's question will be conditioned by context
and that this will be found to be variable from country to country and
region to region. In countries such as Japan, the USA and Germany the focus
in this area has often been on major centres, such as MIT.

Focusing only on the UK situation I think there is clear evidence that there
has been an increase in arts/science collaboration, although in typical UK
fashion the approach favoured tends to be decentralised and modest in its
ambition. There are a number of initiatives that evidence this, being a
mixture of the institutionally driven and those that are more grass-roots in
their origins. A list would include:

Arts and Humanities Research Council/Arts Council of England Artists in
Scientific Institutions Fellowship program, now in its second phase and
likely to iterate again.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Scientists in Artistic
Contexts Fellowship program, which is going through its first phase. I am
not sure when the outcomes of this will be made public.

Design in the 21st century, funded by the AHRC, an initiative in UK
Universities to look at interdisciplinary research programs reflecting on
emergent roles of art and design.

Artists in the Arctic, funded by ACE (I think), which places artists and
scientists together in a research context in the arctic region, researching
climate change and related issues. An ACE funded public call has also gone
out for a similar initiative in the Antarctic, where an artist or artists
will spend a time in residence as part of the British Antarctic Survey

ITEM, the FACT coordinated art/science collaborative range of projects. An
international conference on these collaborations, and related initiatives,
is to be held in Liverpool in April 2006.

The Wellcome Trust's annual round of grants and awards for Art/Science

The Arts Catalyst projects, mostly in the Space-Arts area but also in other
arts/science domains.

The initiatives undertaken by SCAN in the Southern region of the UK, focused
on interdisciplinary collaboration between artists and scientists as well as
a number of specific projects by Locus+ in the North-East region of the UK.
I believe there are similar regional initiatives in the South-West, the East
and the North-West.

A burgeoning number of smaller interdisciplinary research projects and
networks that are emerging due to the support of the relevant Higher
Education Research Councils between researchers and practitioners within Art
and Design departments and other subject areas, notably the physical and
social sciences, across UK universities. It is difficult to mention examples
here as there are quite a number and they range from the modest and informal
to quite large scale and highly structured 6/7 figure budget research

Intra-institutional initiatives such as iDAT (Plymouth), CARTE (Westminster)
and Culture Lab (Newcastle) are just the tip of the iceberg in respect of
the many such interdisciplinary projects and research centres springing up
within various universities around the country.

These last two categories of activity, as well as a number of the others,
are primarily the product of Art and Design being formally recognised as
research active areas in UK universities over the past decade or so and the
emergence of a Research Council to fund that. As always, money is the
driver. The continuing impact of this development on how art is taught and
practiced in the UK cannot be underestimated.

This is not an exhaustive list. I have written this off the top of my head
and it is unlikely that it is anywhere near complete. I have probably left
off some very significant examples due to a lack of research. It might be a
useful application of resources to commission an overview of such work
within the UK, and perhaps more further afield.



On 27.02.06 11:00, Andreas Broeckmann wrote:

> dear friends,
> like others, i am aware that there is an ongoing debate about the
> arts/sciences relationship, and i guess there is a lot of truth in
> trebor's analysis of 'science' as camouflage for arts in a
> unfavourable funding environment.
> however - and please ignore this if the question is foolish - i would
> like to come back to the question that i originally asked, i.e.
> whether anybody has any evidence for an actual *increase* in
> art/science collaborations.
> the question was not meant as a form of polemics, nor did i want to
> put down the (critical and affirmative) examples that there are.
> (with regard to bio-art or space-art, for instance, the same handfull
> of names crop up everywhere. and with regard to the 'status' of those
> endeavours, i liked andrew's throught-provoking suggestion: 'I see
> researchers using creative means to express their work, and we may
> not consider this art under a limited view (could we consider bioart
> a science?), but culturally I think it would be important to consider
> a broader definition of what artistic or creative practice could
> involve ethnographically.'
> regards,
> -a

Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk

Professor, Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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