Experiment, Research, Art

JRC screenshotJournal for Research Cultures
Experiment, Research, Art
Translated transcript of the Jahreskonferenz der Dramaturgischen Gesellschaft
by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger


“What the art historian has to say about the artist should also be applied – cum grano salis – to the scientist, who is searching for the “novel”. The scientist, who researches, “works on in the dark, guided only by the tunnels and the shafts of earlier work, following the vain and hoping for a bonanza”. (Kubler 1982) The historian of science, Thomas Kuhn,   once described it like this: the research process is “a process driven from behind” (Kuhn 1992) and not definable through anticipations, through a Telos – a goal – which is known beforehand and which is directly pursuable. In other words, the sciences are not moving towards something, rather they are moving away from something.”

“I wanted to direct your attention onto the space where knowledge is being created, no matter if epistemically or aesthetically connotated, in contrast to its social negotiation, its public declaration and its local and global distribution. Here one can, I think, look for structural correspondences between the sciences and the arts. I, however, do not belong to those who measure various cultural practices by the same yardstick, but I’m convinced that in an attentive scrutiny of the forms in which the respective materials are dealt with productively, that a study of the material convolutions and involvements of scientists and artists can lead to fundamental similarities in relation to the creation of artistic effects and the creation of knowledge effects. Both scientist and artist go after the unanticipatable and both know they can’t just miraculously pull it out of their heads. This notwithstanding they don’t have to fall into one. The fact that the sciences and the arts have historically created at least meta-stable, separated areas has to be acknowledged, even if this separation hasn’t existed at all times and all places, and even if it doesn’t have to stay this way forever. It could however very well be that this separation is a secondary effect, a collateral damage so to speak, of the respective stabilisation on the level of social negotiation, communication and distribution, and less indebted to the conditions of creating epistemic and artistic values. What we can do is to map out a discursive territory where it is possible that scientists and artists can mutually look at their hands, paying less attention to what they say but much more on what they do when they practice their craft.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *