Monday, July 27, 2009

Antennnae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture

The artist Brandon Ballengee sent a link to the new issue of Antennae, which features one of his scans of cleared and stained amphibians on the cover. The journal is new to me, and I read the whole thing this weekend very avidly. In addition to being a great overview of the academic issues facing the study of nature and visual culture, it had excellent insights into art/science collaborations which is something that I have always been interested in and have the chance to see first-hand with my work on the board of iLAND.

Here is Brandon in an interview:

I strongly do not think blurring in the context of genuine art and science cooperation means dumbing-down. Collaboration implements increased complexity. For in collaborative multi-disciplinary projects, participants come from different skilled backgrounds and work through different models of approach. During the working process natural blurring or overlaps occur between disciplines – which is essential for a cross-pollination of knowledge and skills. Innovation happens precisely because participants approach problems differently. The process is not exclusively art or science but transdisciplinary research.

What is most intriguing to me is that the collaboration is not science or art, but this hybrid that Brandon calls "transdisciplinary research."

Here are two other artists Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd:

Pr. Howard Thomas has mentioned that our collaboration has had a direct influence on the culture of IGER (Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research) and stated that some of the new directions for IGER research would never have been undertaken without our artistic presence. There has been quite a strong media profile for art and science initiatives in the UK in the last few years, and the work of IGER has received more press through our working together than it thought possible, or would have done without our interaction, and when funding for research institutes is hard won, “profile” means something. It has been argued at times that artists gain more from crossing the cultural divide between art and science than scientists do, but we buck that trend.

I pulled this quote because I thought it did a tremendous job of "measuring" the value of the arts to science. Collaborations with artists allow scientists to pursue "new directions," to increase the media profile of science institutions, and improve the chances for "scientific" funding. Although only anecdotal it is very persuasivie. If anyone knows of any other studies that are more quantitative about the effects of artist's collaborations on scientific funding I would love to see them.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing this ej. it's a great point that art and science can benefit from (aptly named) transdisciplinary...