ArtScience Forum (ASF) is a platform for open discussion and critical reflection on ArtScience practice(s) today.
There is a current lack of infrastructures that provide spaces for artists, scientists, thinkers & makers of various (inter-)disciplines to meet, work and exchange freely. The ASF, aims to bring these individuals together in both the offline and online domain. Our goal is to stimulate wide-reaching debate & build up a community of various actors that will, through their diversity, critical and speculative thinking, challenge existing cultural, scientific and socio-political structures. We seek to disrupt the prevalent forms of knowledge production & restriction; traditional notions of discipline, specialisation, and professionalism by critically dissecting the field of ArtScience and re-thinking the future(s) of this practice set “in-between.” Our approach is transparent; organisation horizontal; and our spirit - one of a hacker.
What is ArtScience? A term cloaked in mystery, that we are hearing more and more and whose definition keeps eluding both its practitioners and the general public — has so far proved challenging to define. As far as we are concerned, that is good! Its force and potential comes exactly from this impossibility of definition, determining the totality of its scope and field of its inquiries and the difficulty of moulding it into the system which is trying to exceed.
It stands as a blanket term and is often used to insulate undefined cultural activities and ever proliferating approaches, research trajectories and methodologies. Despite being a loose and complex concept, a possible binding factor for the multiverse of ArtScience practices could be that they are: a direct reaction to the present-day techno-scientific forms of knowledge production and that through art this knowledge (ideas, aesthetics, methodologies, models etc.. ) is incorporated, appropriated and digested for artistic means.
ArtScience Forum was initiated by Luke Boorman and Katarina Petrović in 2016. It began as a student initiative at ArtScience Interfaculty, Royal Academy of Art & the Royal Conservatory, The Hague and was supported by the department. The initial idea for the Forum was catalysed by their shared experience of being students at Interfaculty and facing multiple and systematic limitations to integrative learning even though the department is in fact aspiring to meet them. The need for a broader and deeper critical discourse that would bring forth diversified voices from science and humanities, as well as arts, committed them to the task of putting the complexities of ArtScience practice “on the table.” for discussion.
ArtScience is not just an interdisciplinary practice. It faces the same difficulties as such, but aspires to push interdisciplinary thinking to the extreme by playing with the tensions that occur when two vastly different cultures begin to directly react upon each other. It is rather, an integrative practice, where the knowledge, experience and methodologies of the two (or more) poles lastingly change each other. Re-thinking such a practice means challenging the existing infrastructures of culture, technology and society — as well as establishing a new set of criteria for evaluating ArtScience works.
The main goal of the ArtScience Forum is to provide a public offline meeting place & online space for discussion within the context of research between the arts, sciences, humanities and society. Forums are regular events that provide an arena for conversations to occur between people with different disciplinary alignments, professional experiences and interest/research areas. The purpose is to build an environment that encourages mutual learning, shared inspiration and debate rather than one solely constituted of ‘lecturing’ and or ‘listening’ within the context of critical enquiry into the ‘field’ of ArtScience.
Forums are thematic and topical, and organised in such a way that they enable these themes to be explored from different theoretical/practice based angles. A thematic will often stem from a question; one often stumbled upon during research or one that reacts to a particular strand of debate developed during the previous forum event. Selected speakers are there to provide specific insights, making their work exemplary of practice that orientates us towards a unique position or set of ideas in relation to the topic.
We see a necessity to move away from the podium-audience paradigm and play with the space, audience and speakers arrangement, all together having the desire of creating a non-hierarchical, democratic atmosphere. In turn this reflects the nature of the interdisciplinary relationships we want to see; ones where the two or more parties are capable of operating on the same level intellectually. We also see a need to allow those who carry out integrative practices to also move freely between different communities of thinkers on that same level. The practice of integrative knowledge is in part a means through which we can reflect on the nature of different disciplines and discover new problems within them or share expertise through the combinatory power of an individual's wide reaching experience and knowledge. It is vital therefore that these voices act as go betweens and moderators enabling translation to take place between different amalgamations of professional and Intellectual endeavour.
In 2017 the ASF re-established operation in the city of Leiden. In Leiden we were able to expand our programming by drawing upon the unique history, intellectual and cultural makeup of the city. This manifested itself through the restructuring our affiliations. Particularly through the inclusion of more partners, sponsors and collaborators (see Below) which are not solely held within the artistic or cultural realm, such as: academia, scientific museums, knowledge transfer services and scientific centres. The far reaching presence of the university in the city allows us to involve greater numbers of academics and scientists (both local and visiting) than would be possible in other places and the proximity to larger cultural and artistic centres allows for lots of potential artistic voices to be fed into the ASF platform. In this way Leiden acts as a base for the ASF; allowing physical localisation of the discussions we want to see and hear in tandem with the more global online forum.
*Waag Society, 2018 “Only new alliances between natural, life, social and human sciences will stand a chance of finding solutions for the irreducible complexity of problems like climate change, extinction threats, the depletion of natural resources, global migration and global social justice.” Rosi Braidotti, 2013 Civilisational development is constantly emerging not just within established domains, but also from the collisions between them…
I have been director of The Arts and Genomics Centre at Leiden University in the Netherlands for more than five years now.1 The Arts and Genomics Centre is active at the interface of art, science and technology, and we have focused from the outset on exploring new forms of collaboration between the humanities, the life sciences and the arts. In this paper I will reflect on why I think it is necessary for artists and scholars to engage with the…