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For a transversal art-science

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

  • Andrew Lapworth
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScientist in Residence Program
Subtitle of host publicationA New Approach to Art-Science
Publisher or commissioning bodyGluon
Number of pages5
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Sep 2017
DatePublished (current) - 8 Sep 2017


‘Art-Science’ has gained increased visibility within academic debate as well as wider public discourse in the last decade. This burgeoning and international field of collaboration has been embraced by artists and scientists alike as a crucial arena through which to challenge the institutional and epistemic divisions between disciplines, as well as to generate new concepts and practices for creatively reimagining and responding to broader social, political, and environmental problems. In this sense, contemporary art-science can be productively considered as part of a much longer historical tradition that highlights the insufficiencies of essentialist definitions of ‘Art’ and ‘Science’, to instead foreground a richer history of cross-fertilisation and encounter between the fields (Snow, 1959; Cohen, 2001). Today, ‘art-science’ has become something of an umbrella term for a multiplicity of collaborative practices at the interface of the arts, sciences, and new technologies – including, for example, bioart, nanoart, and forms of new media art.

Despite this heterogeneity, our discussions and imaginaries for what these collaborations could become has been limited by quite narrow understandings of their organisational and spatial form (typically it is the artist visiting the scientist), what their aims and outcomes should be (often PR for corporate science), and their broader logics of interdisciplinary engagement.

But what if we imagined things differently? What if we took the hyphen (-) rather than the terms (‘Art’, ‘Science’) seriously, conceiving ‘art-science’ collaborations less in terms of the communication of already-constituted terms and products towards pre-envisioned ends, and more as a mutually transformative encounter of creative and emergent processes. Speaking back in the 1990s, the French philosopher Félix Guattari already warned us of the dangers of an emerging hegemonic ‘myth of interdisciplinarity’, but also signalled the creative possibility for something different to emerge.


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