From: "Amanda McDonald Crowley"
> Is the area of collaborative practice across the fields of art and science
> perceived to be too policy driven and not responsive enough to artists and
> curators needs or desires at present?
> As a cultural worker I am personally as interested in process driven
> practice as outcomes, which is perhaps slightly at odds with a concept of
> curatorship as it is currently practiced (if not defined) in the
> contemporary art field. But this concept of process, or indeed research
> central to collaboration across disciplines. But how does this play out
> RL? How do artists find a way in to research fields where they are
> generally considered to be outsiders?
In response to some of Amanda's questions about RL sci-art practice, here's
a few notes on some of sci-art projects I've recently been involved with,
where the collaborating team members have had skills in both art and
science - 'sci-artists'. This is just one example of a type of team
configuration, with its own set of issues and solutions. It's a style of
collaborative working that differentiates from the 'artist working with
scientist' model in that the collaborators have skills which largely
One of the broad ideas with some sci-art programmes is to form project teams
of at least one scientist and at least one artist to explore a subject with
relevance to both fields. There is a supposition that the artist and the
scientist are to an extent unaware of each others practice.
The main point with the sci-artist approach is that the research practice is
driven by the an individual or team, rather than by scientist and artist
trying to find a means of collaborating. Since the direction of the research
is defined by the sci-artist and often has deep roots, externally defined
'policy driven' agendas are to some extent avoided.
Collaborations and dialogue with other scientists, artists and sci-artists
are still key aspects of the research practice, but the success of one
particular relationship is less essential. Establishing dialogue with
scientist in fields where they are generally considered to be outsiders
becomes less of an issue because the sci-artist already shares some of the
One difficulty with the sci-artist approach is setting up the conditions for
sustained research, because practitioners aren't quite at home in mainstream
art or science environments. The funding offered by the sci-art
organisations is often essential, but not adequate for the kind of long term
research sci-art projects tend to require. A common route is to operate as a
researcher in an academic institution (often in a New Media related
department). Establishing links with academics in other fields is obviously
much easier from the inside, although the scientists who get involved tend
to have sci-art interests to begin with.
Finally the outcomes of sci-art research can be multi-faceted, as Simon
described in relation to the current Cambridge University projects. Outputs
might consist of establishing research practices and methodologies, creating
relationships between institutions, educational activities, art works,
scientific demonstrations etc. Individual projects might have any number of
these outcomes, which makes the resulting artifacts rather difficult to