New Art/Science Affinities


Book by

Régine Debatty Claire L. Evans Pablo Garcia Andrea Grover Thumb

Part that I wrote

Protei is a fleet of pollution-collecting sailing drones, developed primarily to collect oil spills. It was designed by artist Cesar Harada and an international team of contributors under Open Hardware licensing by Open_Sailing, randomwalks, V2, and Amorphica. The inflatable drones are intended to be inexpensive, semiautonomous, self-righting, hurricane-ready alternatives to current oil spill collection technology, which, according to Harada, collects only three percent of the spilled material. Being an open source project, the sailing drones are designed to be adapted and reimagined within different environmental contexts. While Protei gathers oil spilled into the open sea, other versions could tackle the “plastic island” in the North Pacific gyre or toxic substances in urban waterways. Protei—and its parent project, Open_Sailing, an international organization attempting to design and build a bio-architectural “International Ocean Station”—emphasizes the involvement of multitudes of people to achieve things that, in other contexts, might cost millions of taxpayer dollars and produce semi-secret information for closed groups of scientists. “It is not a utopian project,” Harada writes. “We are working on it every day.”

My piece is p.60-63 in the pdf

Cesar Harada As an artist, how do you see your role in a technological or scientific setting? My answer is personal and reflects only my perspective as an artist in a tech- nological or scientific environment. Before I get more specific, it is necessary to set this question in the context of accelerating technological developments at the beginning of the 21st century, when science resembles and often overpasses our wildest fantasies. I have abandoned consuming fictions since I became interested in science, and I now live in a world that is not limited by technology, but that is powered by technology, without boundaries. The future is open as technology and science reconfigure the environment, the larger ensemble that they influence, the Anthropocene.

Often, the general public mistakingly thinks of science and art as oppositional; one would be logic and procedural— the other intuitive and anarchist; one would be precise—the other scrappy. Such pre-conceptions are inaccurate and coun- terproductive. The history of art and the history of science are undistinguishable. I won’t elaborate about the historical evolution of the art of engineering, the science of emotions, or demonstrate that both art and science utilize extremely creative investigations methods. I would rather be more practical and list a few roles an interchangeable artist/scientist can take in the development of technology/art research.

The making of technological or scientific research is a complex process that requires many components. An artist/scientist, as defined above, can act in two main areas: inside the science, and around the science. Within the science — generates the technology/science, tinkering. — participates in the research process as collaborator, host/resident. — makes a critical and creative contribution. — builds prototypes, researches devices, tests, makes mistakes, observes, writes papers, makes progress. — elaborates on research strategy, explores alternative methods of investigations. — manages, creates connections between ideas, principles, and people with different areas of specialization. — develops applications for the technology, science principles. — plugs into other technology, couples. Around the science — shares findings/ideas with the research community. — contextualizes, historically, socially, and practically, how to implement the science into a technology. — expands/narrows the scope of the research. — makes commentary, fantasizes, makes scenari of technological hedonism/dystopia. — hacks the technology, tests its boundaries, plays. — subverts, outreaches for science/technology. — disturbs, trolls, lobbies. — promotes, fundraises, writes grants. — advises ethics board.

Unfortunately these days I spend more time “around the science” creating the conditions to research than I spend doing the actual research. I personally have much more interest in acting “within the science” and generating the science/technology. I may enroll in a research program again very soon, to become part of larger research group that allows me to focus on making science and technological progress, leaving the “around the science” work to other people who have interest in being in that space.

As a conclusion I would quote Joseph Beuys’ dictum, “Everyone is an artist” and add “Everyone is a scientist.” The boundaries between art and science are arbitrary; post-industrial society is the product of our technology and imagina- tion. Beyond deconstructivism, we are in a time of competition and collaboration for personal and general progress. The question, “Is it art or is it science?” does not matter anymore, and the question, “Are you a scientist or are you an artist?” does not matter anymore either. Every artist is a scientist. Every scien- tist is an artist. We are all people.

What I think matters is that technology, science and art are all contained in the Environment, Nature, the larger ensemble. Anything that positively serves the environment is worth researching. As a person, either considered an artist or scientist, I just keep this in mind, and make it my role as a human.



New Art/Science Affinities

Published by Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University + CMU STUdIo for Creative Inquiry Purnell Center for the Arts 5000 forbes Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Graphic design Thumb: Luke Bulman and Jessica Young

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Noderivs 3.0 Un- ported License. The terms of this license can be found at by-nc-nd/3.0

New Art/Science Affinities is set in replica and New Century Schoolbook.

Printed and bound in the United States. All images courtesy the artists unless otherwise noted. All reasonable attempts have been made to identify owners of copyright. errors or omissions will be corrected in future volumes.

This publication is available in digital form from the publishers.

ISBN: 0977205347 Library of Congress Control Number: 2011931921 first edition, 2011