One of the obstacles in fostering science/engineering to arts/design
collaboration is the often ‘asymmetrical” nature of the collaborations
where the artist is more invested in the collaboration that the scientist.
In this SEAD white paper we are trying to canvass the views of
scientists deeply engaged in such collaborations . If there are any
scientists lurking on YASMIN who are in this category please
contact Carol Strohecker, details below
Broader-Reaching Scientists: Obstacles and Opportunities Facing
Scientists, Mathematicians, and Engineers Deeply Engaged in the Arts
White Paper Coordinator: Carol Strohecker
Working Group Members: Roger Malina, Wendy Silk, Bruno Giorgini
Scientists and engineers in a range of disciplines engage the arts and
design for both personal and professional reasons. This SEAD White
Paper goes beyond avocations such as painting or playing a musical
instrument, to examine obstacles and opportunities that scientists
face when collaborating with artists in professional work.
Overlaps among sciences/engineering and arts/design are widely
acknowledged in terms of the shared motivations of questioning and
creativity and the shared approaches of exploration and invention.
Yet, practitioners who attempt collaborative work across conventional
disciplinary boundaries often encounter inhibitory mindsets and
institutional structures. Struggles may also emerge within the
established partnerships: artists may feel exploited, desiring to
contribute more than just illustrations; scientists may disengage
through fear that the artists do not have adequate grounding to
achieve necessary topical depth.
Nevertheless, many scientists manage to produce effective work through
broadly cross-cutting collaborations. In this White Paper we propose
to interview a number of scientists, mathematicians, and research
engineers who have engaged deeply with the arts and design, to elicit
a contemporary snapshot of perceived obstacles and opportunities from
scientists’ point of view.
We will include representatives of disciplines such as entomology,
neuroscience, chiropterology, meteorology, computer science, and
marine ecology. When the interviewees desire anonymity, we will
maintain it. We will conduct some of the interviews through
face-to-face meetings and some through email correspondence. We will
address these questions among others:
What is your scientific discipline?
What is your art form?
Do you combine any other scientific or engineering perspectives in your work?
When did you start involving artists and/or designers in your work?
What motivated you to do so?
How would you characterize the nature of the artistic contributions?
To what extent do they facilitate:
communication of your work to colleagues;
communication of your work to the general public;
public engagement with your work;
education of your students and colleagues;
education of the general public;
the scientific inquiry itself.
Do you have favorite results from your collaborations with artists/designers?
What has worked best in these collaborations?
Why do you think it worked well?
What problems have emerged?
What caused these problems to emerge?
Are there ways in which your institution facilitated or hampered your
What new opportunities exist to be promoted ?
Have any patents resulted from your art-oriented projects?
Have the results or the collaborative involvements changed your
thinking about your science in any way?
Has the involvement influenced your working method or approach in any way?
Has the work led you to inquiry of any other scientific problems or topics?
Any other thoughts about your art/science work?
We expect that these questions will lead to back-and-forth exchanges
in person and/or via email. We will sustain these dialogs in order to
understand particulars of each collaborative situation. Finally, we
will compare the responses and cull points leading to suggested
actions for people seeking to develop art/science collaborations and
for funders and policy-makers seeking to support them.
We invite interested scientists to contact us at:
Carol Strohecker <cs-at-centerfordesigninnovation.org>