We have been having a heated discussion on the YASMIN discussion list: you can subscribe and contribute to the discussion at
You can just follow the discussion on this blog, or by subscribing to http://yasminlist.blogspot.com/
Art-science professionals are participating and giving their “lessons learned”
The discussion has honed into some sprited discussions following the very negative review of Ryoji Ikeda by a reviewer who shall remain un-named
Here is a very very negative review of Ryoji’s Ikeda’s art installation resulting from his cern residency
artanddesign/ jonathanjonesblog/2015/apr/23/ art-respond-science-cern- ryoji-ikeda-supersymmetry
Should art respond to science? On this evidence, the answer is simple: no way
Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda’s installation Supersymmetry is inspired by his residency at Cern –
but signifies little more than that physics is weird. Isn’t it time we stopped expecting artists to understand the complexities of science?
artanddesign/ jonathanjonesblog/2015/apr/23/ art-respond-science-cern- ryoji-ikeda-supersymmetry
this is very much along the lines of my colleague Jean Marc Levy=Lebond’s book ‘Science is not art’ where he attacks
much of the mystification of art science practice
the review ends with:
com/artanddesign/art> and science, we feel, should have something to say to each other. But perhaps they speak different languages after all. I don’t speak the language of science too
well, either, but I do know one thing: it is concerned with the wonder of nature. There is a depressing lack of wonder in this technically sophisticated but intellectually and emotionally empty art.
would be interested in Yasminer reactions= has anyone seen the work ?
Dear Roger & Fellow Yasminers,
One of the crucial differences between art and science is that art represents and expresses the views of the artist. Art also involves a viewer or receiver. As Duchamp used to say, the viewer completes the work of art. But this isn’t merely Duchamp’s opinion: this is a fundamental proposition of symbolic interactionism as a method in the social sciences, and this is the core understanding of hermeneutics. For a deeper discussion of these issues, I have posted Herbert Blumer’s concise, elegant discussion of the methodological perspective of symbolic interaction in the teaching documents section of my Academia page at URL:
The clarity and precision of the natural sciences arises from the fact that the equations and propositions of natural science reflect and represent a world that should be the same to all viewers. While there are often differences of opinion about the truth, correctness, or value of what any one scientist or research team may represent about the physical world, there are also reasonably common standards that permit us to reach a common view over time.
One of Albert Einstein’s great papers of 1905 was his paper on Brownian motion. He published this at a time when no one was yet able to physically see an atom. Many scientists doubted the physical reality of atomic theory — and this included a great many scientists who accepted the hypothetical use of atomic theory for heuristic or didactic purposes while doubting the physical reality of atomism.
Einstein’s paper, “On the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in Liquids at Rest Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat”
examined several well-known physical and chemical facts, drawing together well established evidence to demonstrate the physical reality of atoms. As a result, many scientists who had been skeptical about the reality of atoms became convinced that atoms were, in fact, real. You can read the paper (in Satchel 1998: 71-98) for yourself on my Academia page at URL:
The key issue between these two kinds of discussions is the difference between the ways in which we can understand human beings, how they think, how they behave, and what their behaviour means — including those forms of human behaviour that include speech acts, and the artefacts of behaviour in the form of written texts and works of art.
Not only do human actions change over time, but the meanings of human actions change over time. What’s more, the understanding of human actions, human artefacts, and their meaning undergo translation by everyone who hears, sees, or participates in any action.
An atom of carbon will be the same as any other atom of carbon in the universe. Gravitation is the same force wherever we can look and wherever we can measure it. Certain predictable factors account for measurable differences — different isotopes of any element, differences in the strength of gravity on the surface of a large planet as against the force of gravity in space outside the pantry atmosphere.
In contrast, my idea of a good beer may differ to the ideas of those five people at the table next to me. I’ll order a bottle of India Pale Ale from the case and not the refrigerator while the next table has five frosty glasses of house lager on tap. Someone may enjoy Aaron Copland’s film scores while someone else might prefer Danny Elfman’s work, and yet another person might enjoy them equally. One viewer may love Ryoji Ikeda’s work and another may not. I am puzzled about the multimillion dollar sums that Jeff Koons’s work take at auction when someone can buy a beautiful print by Dieter Roth or a painting by Dick Higgins for a 5-figure sum.
It is for this reason that I read Jonathan Jones’s review of Ryoji Ikeda’s Supersymmetry installation without too much feeling either way. The artist responded to scientific ideas, but Ikeda’s installation is art and not science. It is very much the same thing as a musician composing works to reflect a sense of what early astronomers called “the music of the spheres.” Jones’s review tells me what Jones thinks — it doesn’t tell me what I think.
I haven’t seen the installation for myself, so I have no idea about it from first-hand experience. I did read the review, but the review doesn’t seem any more harsh than other kinds of reviews. If you want to read some truly withering criticism, take a look at Nicolas Slonimsky’s Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven’s Time. I suppose that a similar collection may exist for visual art, but I haven’t seen it. There are two interesting books of rejection letter from publishers and others, however. One is Bill Shapiro’s Other People’s Rejection Letters: Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You’ll Be Glad You Didn’t Receive. The other is Rotten Rejections: The Letters That Publishers Wish They’d Never Sent by Andre Bernard.
Duchamp used to say “posterity will be the judge.” We’ll eventually find out whether Ikeda’s work or Jones’s opinion prevails.
I have not seen the work (I suspect the piece resembles other pieces by Ikeda I have seen and liked), but a scathing review by Jonathan Jones I would certainly put on my CV…
In my view he is one of these rather surprising cases (opera being another) where it seems that art critics of the Guardian are just not the right people to review anything conceived after the industrial revolution.
not a very thorough response, I admit,
A very interesting set of questions to arise at this point in time of intense mutual admiration between art and science and lack of responsible criticism in the arts and as science falls prey to conservative doubting, at least in States, and what I would argue is an over determination from technology sectors in education.
Perhaps it’s not so much that artists should “understand” or take a deeply creative interest in mimicking science in their practices, but that both can learn different sets of questions and directions for research from each other and that deep critique both positive and negative is needed in both fields. We have enough problems to solve on this planet!
I had a chat with Erik Davis after a presentation he did about psychedelia in which he screened early CIA scientific experiments with LSD – controlled in a white office, with clock, with men in ties. If this is “objectivity” about the type of mystical experience possible on psilocybin then scientists have missed something crucial about aesthetics and sensual pleasure in affecting mind-alteration. He also talked about a recent study done at Johns Hopkins where it was determined that there was some kind of universally-had mystical experience. Presumably this more recent study used control environments more conducive to tripping than the CIA did in the sixties.
My point being that Science could gain important insights into how it is posing questions and proving its ideas from artists and artists would do well not to treat their own practices as if Art were for producing results that need to be proved–what has seemed a creeping concern in both criticism and practice and a peculiar (funding driven?) demand on artists in the last decade.
Molly Hankwitz, PhD
Independent scholar, curator, editor
Your post is nicely stated.
In reflection, the arts covers a very large domain of forms. I’m not sure
that gaming lacks scientific method if it were to be translated into the
language of gaming and the skills for programming, texturing, layering, etc.
of the game itself. If it functions, then it has completed its proof of
concept. Same with dance, music, etc. when these fields meet the level of
scholarship and aesthetic required. But when we start getting into
experimental fields that do not have a baseline it becomes more difficult.
But in art/science, I take science very seriously in my biodesign work and
would not consider it true science if the experiments outcome had not been
inherently repeatable, proven over and over again, and then written up and
reviewed by blind peer review, and then published in a scientific Journal.
Art should not have to prove itself, but if it is claiming to be scientific
it must imho.
Dr. Natasha Vita-More
Hi Roger and all
I missed it unfortunately – but I did hear great things about this event
from curator/producers who understand this kind of work and there was a
real buzz about the project in London when it was taking place.
You can sample a bit of it and read other perspectices from more
informed voices here:
com/vinyl-factory-films/watch- a-trailer-for-ryoji-ikedas- supersymmetry-installation- open-now-at-brewer-street-car- park/
I think broader questions are ‘why do even high profile big budget
art-science related works rarely get reviewed in mainstream press’ or
‘why do they receive such poor (as in poorly researched) reviews when
this does happen’….which are difficult questions to
answer——suspect Joost is right. One wouldn’t look to The Guardian or
its reviewers for an informed perspective on Ikeda and this kind of
practice which comes from a root that would not be familiar to them. It
is like they are being sent off to review a work without having any
knowledge of the artist’s professional trajectory up to this point so
this doesn’t get mentioned nor does any reference get made to the
context within which the CERN residency took place (ie a whole history
of such encounters). So the old chestnut of art and science and their
mutual mis/understanding becomes the focus of this tired and trite
commentary. Sadly while reviewers such as Jones might think they are
being provocative in fact fewer and fewer people are listening
….certainly the audiences for this kind of work (which are enormous
and increasingly youthful) have slipped well beyond the orbit of the
newspaper’s sphere of influence.
Yes indeed the Jones review and your points reinforce many of the uneasy
Discussions about “art in service of science’ and “science in service of art”=
There is a whole range of practices between these two ends of the spectrum
And Jones clearly wants=he says
“Isn’t it time we stopped expecting artists to understand the complexities of science?..
This is not a work of art about physics. It is a work of art about how crazy everything is. That’s a trivial misunderstanding of what goes on at Cern, surely.”
Presumably he would pan the stained glass windows at Chartres as insufficiently
Explanatory , and yes Duchamp the viewer completes the work of art…
Ken you state:” The key issue between these two kinds of discussions is the difference between the ways in which we can understand human beings, how they think, how they behave, and what their behaviour means — including those forms of human behaviour that include speech acts, and the artefacts of behaviour in the form of written texts and works of art.”
Another take on this point comes from” Slingerland’s Creating Consilience
Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities” where he argues for a different axis
Of thinking which looks at how we have to shift points of view as we change scale
In space ( nano, mico, mill, km, light year) or time ( pico, milli, year, millennium, billion)
Or group size ( individual, duo, group, community, country, civilization)- the concept
Of the humanities only makes sense at certain scales- just as quantum mechanics is
Not the right frame of the behavior of trees.
So I certainly subscribe to the ways of knowing argument- but its not just
Art or science, it’s also an interleaving of different approaches at different scales
And as we know from the sciences of complexity and emergence even
The concept of causality changes
If anyone has seen Ryoji’s Ikeda’s work it would be great to have a witness
I saw Ikeda’s work in London. I really liked it – the aesthetics (of
which the noise is a vital part), the overwhelming impressions and
sensations of light and vibration and attempts to systemise vast
complexity. Once could understand how Ikeda was responding emotionally
to the mind-boggling science at CERN, but doing so through his own
immense and extraordinary process. For me it conveyed well, almost at an
intuitive level, the vast physical undertaking and intellectual
complexity of high energy theoretical physics. It was stunning and
intriguing. It couldn’t have been conceived without visiting CERN. What
more is needed?
I don’t wish to discuss Jones’ views, as to do so simply rewards his
clickbait writing style. Being the Guardian art critic in the UK, he is
hard to avoid,
Gaston Bachelard makes the point that "bad science can produce good art."
His books reveal how what was once taken to be scientific fact can become a
poetics that retains a psychological truth even when it can no longer claim
any scientific legitimacy. Ordinary language still carries along the
imagery of how we used to imagine the word–and ideas we no longer accept
as scientific may still condition our experience of the world.
I have only seen Ikeda’s work in online videos, so it is particularly
difficult to know how to react to it. I do use other works of his in class
as examples both of simplicity of means and large scale immersive
environments. I read the review some time ago, and found it irritating–the
sort of "let’s be sure you know my opinion" writing that for me is the
opposite of what I imagine good art criticism should be. Rather that
offering readers analysis that would allow the reader to form her own
understanding Ikeda’s work, the critic decides what is good and what is
bad. But that’s the pattern of most newspaper criticism for you.
On the other hand, I think that there is a point to be made about artists
learning the language of science in ways that go beyond the facile.
Complexity and chaos theory have been particularly misconstrued–consider
the innumerable times "the butterfly effect" is dropped into conversation.
There is a tendency of artists to skim the surface, pluck a few metaphors,
and consider that their work is done.
Dear Guillermo, Roger, and all,
I’d like to add to the mercado some observations from the Moon Vehicle project (2008-10). This was a project I mentored in Bangalore as an artist and I’m just going to say a few things about why scientists from the Chandrayaan Moon mission and science institutes in the city began to work with us.
It took me a long time to understand that the scientists who worked with us were not doing so necessarily because we were doing an interesting art project, or because of the quality of what we were doing! We attracted participation because we presented an opportunity for the scientists who joined in to achieve something of their own – to push forward certain of their own agendas to which they found themselves in a delimited capacity to change through any other means.
From the art and design side I think this sense of a delimited capacity to act through other means was also exactly why Moon Vehicle began in the first place (based at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, an idea that came out of the Bangalore Space, Arts and Culture symposium in 2007, ideated by Geetha Narayanan, Sundar Sarukkai, Roger Malina, Rob La Frenais and Nicola Triscott, Meena vari among others and initially tutored by Gabriel Harp at Srishti’s Centre for Experimental Media Arts).
Moon Vehicle was in many ways an activist project and motivated as a protest against the exclusion of the arts and humanities from the cognitive, conceptual and workspaces of space mission design. The activities of the two-year project staked a claim – graphically (ideas of ‘counter-visuality and ‘performing heterogeneity’ Nicholas Mirzoeff and Daphne Brooks for instance seemed relevant) and from the apparent serendipity of events the art/science project created opportunities and platforms otherwise not available.
One such opportunity that I noticed revealed why scientists joined forces with ‘creatives’ happened during a press conference for a very significant event that came out of the two-year process. In 2010 Srishti collaborated with the Indian space agency (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics to stage a first-of-its-kind public festival of astronomy called Kalpaneya Yatre: Journey of Imaginations. At the press conference the official from the Public Relations office of ISRO stood up and said to the cameras that they had specially provided for the exhibition models of the spacecraft, rockets and large antenna dishes which the public otherwise did not have access to.
Immediately after, one of the ISRO scientists who had been collaborating with us (and in fact whose idea the festival had been) stood up from behind the cameras and stated very forcefully that the reason the festival had been put on was to convey the science of multi-wavelength astronomy to the public.
It was then that it dawned on me that this is what the transdisciplinarity, the hybrid and shared activities had been about all along for our fellow collaborators (I mean at least in part and something that hadn’t been apparent to me before that point). The science of the Moon mission was what scientists working on the mission wanted, very passionately, to convey to a wider public. The official ISRO sources of public information turned the mission into a set of icons, exhibited usually as trophies (some exceptions to this). The art project had presented, however tenuously, an opportunity to sidestep the political assimilation of the technology and for the makers of the mission to take matters into their own hands.
The scientists themselves, it was demonstrably clear, were absolutely sure that multi-wavelength astronomy could be conveyed and should be shared. Something of the history of social activism within science in India helps in contextualising these sensibilities further. But this is one example of many kinds of ways that activity generated from the ambivalence and chaos (and Temporary Autonomous Zones that John Hopkins referenced of Hakim Bey) that art/science encounters can create, come to be used and why they are propagated.
I found Alyce Santoro’s comment to do with the proposed pipeline through Big Bend National Park (a place I also love) important and resonant here:
” Who is left to fight, and to point out this conflict of interest? The answer is artists, students, self-employed and retired people, and others without affiliations or anything much to lose.”
because there is also much to say about how agendas and motivations become shared and passed between participants in such interactions, such that those with more to lose (the government employed scientists) could work through the ‘artists,’ who, in the case of Moon Vehicle for sure were willing scapegoats, willingly disruptive of the status quo!
I have not seen Ryoji Ikeda=E2=80=99s present installation, although in =
photographs it looks impressive. I cannot, therefore, specifically =
respond to Jonathan Jones=E2=80=99 critique of it. Generally speaking, I =
have some sympathy for his view, but in my experience, it is very easy =
to be critical of work and even to agree with the criticism of others =
but it is a very different matter to be positive and make clear what one =
does like or is inspired by. It is only on hearing which artists working =
on that edge between art and science Jonathan Jones would find =
inspiring, if any, that you begin to understand what he is about.=20
My response to this interesting question =20
Dear Ken and Fellow Yasminers
Of course the letters that publishers wish they had never sent is a good
way to view Jones’ review.
I’ve been reading Susan Sontag’s essay on Camp and that’s the sort of
writing that we are looking for – sensitive and evocative responses to
the sorts of work that we are interested in and involved with. Writing
that draws out the sensibilities of the work and provides us with a
frame of reference for understanding.
But remember that Jones’ review might have prompted more people to visit
the installation, more people to have arguments about the relationship
between art and science and more people to appreciate Ikeda’s art.
Sometimes you have to slag something off to get people to pay attention
But the world is not only the Turner Prize, any news is good news, no
such things as bad publicity.
We actually need good critical writing to explore what the work means to
the audience (bearing in mind that as Ken so rightly highlights there is
no direct connection between the artist’s intention and the audiences’
reception of the work). The critic is the audiences’ voice, the way the
artist hears back. I’m not meaning to simplify the critic or to remove
the power relations, the connection between critic and collector, etc.
But we know we need high quality criticism and we know that we need it
more than ever now.
For what its worth my cues for writing good criticism are Helen
Molesworth, Susan Sontag and Grant Kester.
On 28/05/2016 12:12, Ken Friedman wrote:
> Dear Roger & Fellow Yasminers,
> One of the crucial differences between art and science is that art represents and expresses the views of the artist. Art also involves a viewer or receiver. As Duchamp used to say, the viewer completes the work of art. But this isnâ€™t merely Duchampâ€™s opinion: this is a fundamental proposition of symbolic interactionism as a method in the social sciences, and this is the core understanding of hermeneutics. For a deeper discussion of these issues, I have posted Herbert Blumerâ€™s concise, elegant discussion of the methodological perspective of symbolic interaction in the teaching documents section of my Academia page at URL:
> The clarity and precision of the natural sciences arises from the fact that the equations and propositions of natural science reflect and represent a world that should be the same to all viewers. While there are often differences of opinion about the truth, correctness, or value of what any one scientist or research team may represent about the physical world, there are also reasonably common standards that permit us to reach a common view over time.
> One of Albert Einsteinâ€™s great papers of 1905 was his paper on Brownian motion. He published this at a time when no one was yet able to physically see an atom. Many scientists doubted the physical reality of atomic theory â€” and this included a great many scientists who accepted the hypothetical use of atomic theory for heuristic or didactic purposes while doubting the physical reality of atomism.
> Einsteinâ€™s paper, â€œOn the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in Liquids at Rest Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heatâ€
> examined several well-known physical and chemical facts, drawing together well established evidence to demonstrate the physical reality of atoms. As a result, many scientists who had been skeptical about the reality of atoms became convinced that atoms were, in fact, real. You can read the paper (in Satchel 1998: 71-98) for yourself on my Academia page at URL:
> The key issue between these two kinds of discussions is the difference between the ways in which we can understand human beings, how they think, how they behave, and what their behaviour means â€” including those forms of human behaviour that include speech acts, and the artefacts of behaviour in the form of written texts and works of art.
> Not only do human actions change over time, but the meanings
Maybe, in the opposite direction we can find examples like “Colliderscope”,
which is a collaboration between scientists and artists in the Niels Bohr
Institute with data from CERN.
I really like this project, but maybe in some art context it could be read
as a simple idea, or maybe it is not exploited all the artistic potential.
However, the science is totally considered in this project, reproducing the
data in the same detection geometry that is recorded in CERN instalations.
Picking up a previous strand, scientist Craig Hilton answers the questions
On his career as a scientist involved in the arts- his self questioning
Ties in with our discussion about the status of art science in the art world
And the career advice for young hybrids
1- what is your background as a scientist? In the arts, design or humanities ?
PhD Biochemistry (genetics), cancer research, immunology
Otago University, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research Harvard Medical School, Dana Farber, University of Massachusetts
MFA, University of Auckland, Elam School of Fine Arts
Religious upbringing, Father -Minister of the church (protestant, Christian)
2- when and how did you become involved in a hybrid art/science practice?
I became interested in art through science. While sometimes science allows big questions, it mostly does not (for most scientists). Art is always enticing in that regard. I was also lucky enough to study at a university that mixed students of different disciplines and so had many friends across science and art. My long-term interest in photography (initially through mountaineering) allowed me to put together reasonable portfolio which (alongside my PhD) opened the door to an Arts Masters programme. My interests in photography has not waned but I no longer take photographs and my art practice is no longer media driven.
3- what have been the major obstacles to overcome?
Isolation. I have sort out other hybrid-type folk over the years. For me the key to the hybridity is to maintain genuine understanding of the art and the science / attempt genuine value across. Thus is not easy – I once commented in an interview – it is like being bisexual when nobody will sleep with you.
Despite the general agreement that we are beyond objects in art -ideas still struggle and art is often focused on the media and less the idea.
4- what have been the greatest opportunities/breakthroughs?
a. Acknowledgement of work by scientific and art communities (especially- The Immortalisation of Bily Apple -an ongoing project)
b. Attention of Science Communication community towards arts a means to initiate much-needed conversation. However, I am provoked by Oron Catts’ informal comment made to a scientist colleague in response to the scientist requesting the work work in a certain way – We are not here to make you life easy . I entitled a talk to science communicators with this Catts quote…walking a fine line between traitor and advocate possibly.
5- what would you do differently, knowing then what you know now?
Not too much big picture-wise-this is by nature difficult. Lots of things when it comes to details.
6- any advices to someone who may want to walk in your footstep?
Like any art practice, the work needs to be informed. There needs to be more to it than an artist fiddling with the tools of science or a scientist presenting the images of science in an art context. Study for a while.
7. Add other questions and your responses you think are relevant
Does it matter?
I am convinced it does. The influence of science and technology remains largely uncontested by culture. What can happen will happen. Advances in molecular and cellular biology and the application of resulting technologies have vastly increased not just our understanding of the foundation and mechanisms of life but also our ability to adjust life according to our whim and needs. Artists have a unique opportunity to represent communities and engage science and technology, directly addressing the tension between society and the scientific community. Art can be an effective way of stimulating debate and engaging people with biotechnology and the ethical questions it raises.
The recent comments on the differences between individual art in the modern studio tradition and art arising from communities reminded me of an intriguing article by Bengt af Klintberg, the Swedish folklorist and Fluxus artist.
In 1993, af Klintberg published an interesting article titled â€œFluxus Games and Contemporary Folklore: on the Non-Individual Character of Fluxus Artâ€ in the journal Konsthistorisk Tidskrift Vol. LXII, No. 2. The article is in English so anyone who find the topic interesting can read this.
You will find the article in the â€œteaching documentsâ€ section of my Academia page at URL:
The article will remain available until Saturday, June 4.
Af Klintberg draws interesting parallels between activities arising in and from communities. Folklore, fables, stories, myths and tales â€” as well as games â€” are one such range of activities. Many kinds of art are another.
For those who are interest in learning more about af Klintberg and his work, I have also posted the full text of his 1967 booklet, The Cursive Scandinavian Slave. Originally published by the Something Else Press, it was reprinted by UbuWeb in the Ubu Classics series.
Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | è®¾è®¡ She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | Launching in 2015
Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| University Distinguished Professor | Centre for Design Innovation | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Austr
From: Joanna Griffin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To add to the comments of Liliane Lijn and Chris Fremantle, I yearn for the intellect of Rosalind Krauss and Leo Steinberg to help contextualise what the activity of artists encountering science as laboratory, as scientist, as activity, history, dress-sense, soundscapes, cultures, etc…. tells us about more elusive shifts. What is made more visible? The articles by Krauss that I now read on microfiche from the 70s and 80s point to how artistic practices make visible more elusive shifts in conditions in the world in which we live. It is perhaps that refocus provided by artworks as catalysts that is missing in commentaries
In thinking (nostalgically) about the absence and role of the art critic, in 2002 the UK-based curator Claire Doherty wrote very perceptively about my work and it was incredibly useful for my own professional development, but in a sense it also modelled interpretation and the intellectual depth to which artists pitch when making work. I wonder if other artists embarked on PhDs, like myself, to do the job of articulating context, articulating the “frame of reference for understanding” that Chris Fremantle mentions is so valuable, specifically because of the absence otherwise of adequate written reflection. In particular an absence in the face of the practices considered in this list, and the need to think carefully about the shifts that artists have made (not to mention anthropologists) towards the critical interpretation of aspects of science and technology.
It seems a luxury now to have another person take the time to do such critical appraisals that provide as Chris Fremantle has written “the way the artist hears back.” At the same time writing by artists takes new turns. But its also relevant to think about how artists with curators and art agencies have shifted audience inside their work, and the extent to which this is a pattern for artists responding to and engaging with science. I know this was something I did to provide access to an experience and to bring ‘audiences’ with me on the journey, so shifting to a more participative approach. That was one solution, anyhow, and the solutions keep changing! In terms of this discussion though, I can link the loss of the reflection of the art critic to a re-structuring of the mechanisms for reflection by ‘persons-formerly-known-as-
audience’ on and through creative practice.
Joanna Griffinâ€™s recent post brought up the important issue of context. This is a central challenge for every field, not just art criticism. Friedrich Schleiermacher discussed the importance of context in relation to hermeneutics. His argument was that every interpretive effort â€” in this case, art criticism â€” requires at least two steps. First, the interpreter must understand and convey to the reader what the creator of a text (or an art work) meant in the context of its time. Second, the interpreter must create his or her own interpretation.
Hegel discusses the importance of context in his _Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy_. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.) For Hegel, context is a paramount issue of context, of which he writes: â€œNo one can escape from the substance of his time any more than he can jump out of his skinâ€ (p. 112).
Interestingly, a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times discusses this same point in relation to replicating studies in psych0logy.
The New York Times article is titled â€œWhy Do So Many Studies Fail to Replicate?â€. It discusses the issue of replication. Some of the issues in this article are relevant to understanding or describing art, as well as having significance to art-science experiments. So far, there has been little effort spent in attempting to replicate artistic experiments, but this may not always be the case. To the degree that art-science experiments may have wide significance, then some form of replication should be possible. If this is not the case, then a great deal of art-science would only be some form of artistic commentary about science, rather than achieving some form of genuine hybrid art-science experimentation. For real experiment and attempts to replicate, context is vitally important. (As Joanna wrote, this is also crucial for understanding art.)
Over the past few years, there has been an important project in the field of psychology titled the Reproducibility Project. The article in the New York Times by Dr. Jay Van Bavel of New York University of New York University discusses the issues and challenges of the project â€” and the challenges of replication in any field that works with human beings rather than natural or physical phenomena. In my view, artistic experimentation is a form of communication, so it inevitably involves human beings rather than the pure study of scientific phenomena.
Here are Van Bavelâ€™s first three paragraphs:
Last year, a colleague asked me if I would send her the materials needed to try to replicate one of my published papers â€” that is, to rerun the study to see if its findings held up. â€œIâ€™m not trying to attack you or anything,â€ she added apologetically.
I laughed. To a scientist, replication is like breathing. Successful replications strengthen findings. Failed replications root out false claims and help refine imprecise ones. Testing and retesting make science what it is.
But I understood why my colleague was being delicate. Around that time, the largest replication project in the history of psychology was underway. This initiative, called the Reproducibility Project, reran 100 studies published in prominent psychology journals.
You will find the complete article at:
This op-ed piece is based on article by Van Bavel, Peter Mende-Siedlecki, William J. Brady and Diego A. Reinero in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled: "Contextual sensitivity in scientific reproducibility.â€
Here is the abstract:
In recent years, scientists have paid increasing attention to reproducibility. For example, the Reproducibility Project, a large-scale replication attempt of 100 studies published in top psychology journals found that only 39% could be unambiguously reproduced. There is a growing consensus among scientists that the lack of reproducibility in psychology and other fields stems from various methodological factors, incl