04 November 2008

Crossing over: fusing science and art

This was an evening event at the Royal Institution of Great Britain providing a conversation between participants of the Crossing Over exhibition and members of the public.

Initiated by facilitator Mark Lythgoe, a start point was the separation of science and humanities, as argued by C. P. Snow in his Two Cultures lecture of 1959. A discussion of collaborations that tried to cross Snow’s fences, moved on to some thoughtful attendee comments about the requirements and expectations of role and institution, rather than essentialist differences between practitioner types.

In this light I was reminded that the potential value of sci-art is not to do with the inspiring effect of art’s lens upon science methods, nor the nourishment of art practice by science outcomes, but rather the value of collaborative practice as it provides the resources and the time for people to do things that they might not ordinarily do, with people they might not usually meet.

Additionally, if these collaborations are transparent, and performed amongst the public, they start to work upon divisions between specialists and non-specialists, which is perhaps a more relevant division within contemporary society than Snow’s two cultures.

Bonsai Cells
Above: the Bansai Cells project lets researchers discuss their work with different audiences

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