Thoughts on Interdisciplinary Art/Science


collection of thoughts post-discussion:

What are some big questions that science needs to ask ?




vitalism is the potential for change – IPS?


there may be institutional facillitators but these are figureheads that need the inspired cause of the artist to do their work, or essentially make these connections.  In the case of Phillip Thurtle, these facillitators are also the artists, but since the intention of the work is not meant to be self- fulfilling , what concerns them more are the relationships between the people involved – name calling or playing ‘disciplinary blind-mans-buff’ is inappropriate insomuch the discussion proceeds without the individuals needing to play their pre-supposed roles.  Of course they function as literacy brokers since certain aspects of the project required the input of the so-called expert (e.g. neuroscience, art history, astronomy, particle physics) but in these interactions, it is useful for every person to be simultaneously responding, or at least thinking from the perspectives of artist, scientist, engineer, designer etc.

When it comes to science, the common view is that science needs to ask some big questions, that they are good at solving problems that require a deep knowledge or understanding of the subject matter, and not bigger fundamental questions.  but what are some of these big questions in the first place?  Do they not arise because of our limited understanding of ourselves, nature, the scope and extent of the earth/solar system, what’s out there and how things relate to their environments.    Perhaps these are the impetus for these questions, but science is not the only way in which these questions can be answered.  Art for instance provides the experiential component of many phenomenological questions, also provides in itself more questions about relationships between people and emotions.  As Axle Roser says, art is the hypothesis – and we try to play around with that as much as we can.

Historically, the field of natural philosophy which was an amalgamation of (what we now call) science, art, aesthetics caffeinated by shots of wonder, imagination and magin.  We saw the romanticized notions of nature, beauty, magic, anatomy and the emotions pervading natural philosophers such as William Herschel, Humprey Davy, Captain Cook and Joseph Banks , Erasmus Darwin and John Herschel, HelmHoltz, Faraday and Bacon, Athanasius Kircher and Goethe. But an essential component of these people’s works were the discovery of new epistemological frontiers, and they used any means possible to get there – alchemy, magic, touring exhibitions, cutting up cadavers, using themselves as test subjects (remember Faraday’s experiences of nearly blinding himself, Davy’s experiences with copious amounts of NO2 , Herschel’s experiences nearly being crushed by his 40foot telescope)  etc.  Art or aesthetics as we  identify now of glass tubes, brass fittings and spherical objects was not really seen as art, but more as techne –  a technique towards the quantification of some character.  Albeit often the discourse was between exhibition devices and mediation devices, and some aspect of repeatable experiment or proof that a phenomenon existed.


It has been said that ‘science is dead’ – i have to read Horgan’s book to really be persuaded to believe that.

‘i now am consciously aware that i am critical of myself being critical of the sonification of data because it is not a science, nor is it music’ –  perhaps because the use of discipline-specific instruments is a cheap way ( that i have used in the past)  to assert the identity of a certain practice, but when something seems to function well on multiple aesthetic and informative levels i reach a cerebral block.

What can be said about Alvin Lucier’s ‘Vespers’ and how it transforms the sounds of an echolocation device plucked out of a laboratory into a work of spatial sound.  Is it context of being performed within musical/artistic spaces?  or is it that Lucier himself is known as a composer.  His reach of sound then goes beyond any discipline of music/ sound art ( that is pretty ill-defined, but a somewhat diversified yet stratified canon is emerging)  that was common in the time.  Ill be really excited to present this when the time comes.







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