Archive for August, 2011

The Art-Sci Geog team organized two paper sessions and a panel at the Association of Pacific Geographers Conference, San Francisco, CA (28th September and 1st October, 2011)

(Re) Mediated Environments (Sessions I and II)

Session Organizer and Chair: Sallie A. MarstonUniversity of Arizona

In the proliferation of the intersections between art, science and technology we find a number of understandings, occupations, and problematizations of  ‘the environment’. A strong impulse here comes from the creation of digital media environments, through a range of aesthetic-cum-technological practices where the successive refashioning of media forms — through, for example, immersive interactive technologies — is understood to extend and transform senses and subjectivities. These mediated intersections of skin, sound and screen rewire minds, and retool brain-body-matter relations, extending our imaginations and our metaphysics.

We also find a rather different set of practices which, gathered together under the category of ‘eco-art’ harness, in the name of environmental improvement, scientific discourse, ecological practice, and an avowed commitment to participatory politics. Mobilizing aesthetic practices, these remediated environments: offer up challenges to teleological narratives of ecological science; take aim at the technological distance taken by earlier forms of land art; and, evoking a spirit of education, creativity and experiment, prompt us towards more ethical relations with myriad and microscopic forms of earth-life.

In these session we seek to bring geographical sensibilities to bear on the broader examinations of a range of different forms of (re)mediated environments, and the intersections of art-science-technology that create them. We also aim to examine the irruptive capacity of these aesthetic-cum-scientific practices in the context of our geographical understandings and imaginaries.

Session I

Jill M. Scott jillian.scott@zhdk.chZurich University of the Arts. The Invisible Present: Art and Science Projects for Interactive Media Platforms.

This paper outlines some new approaches to climate literacy based on the following three questions. First, on aneducational level, how can the anthropogenic effects of climate change and the more invisible shifts in basic scientific local and global atmospheric conditions be translated into viable chunks of more digestible knowledge? Second, onprocess of production level: How can trans-disciplinary art and science teams collaborate to discuss issues like public denial and social responsibility? For example, do the scientific members of such a team need to understand narrative, semiotics and poetic metaphors in order to make any difference to the communication and dissemination of climate science? Third, on a performative level: How can immersive visual experiences, interactive potentials and surround sound applications (in planetariums, virtual theatres and interactive media) help the viewer to shift the roles that they might play in the future? Through the presentation of my own case-study entitled: Atmosphere One, (A Planetarium Dome Project) and comparison with other artists examples, I offer a set of media proposals that might help to educate the public about the scale of the problem by using the visible affects on molecular level climate science cycles. I also suggest a radical shift in production rules and the roles of team members to open up both off-line and on-line discussions. Although some examples in documentary film have already addressed this issue, it is high time for interactive media platforms to offer audiences themselves a more mediated and performative set of sustainable roles that they might be able to play in the future!

Chris Lukinbealchris.lukinbeal@arizona.eduUniversity of ArizonaSensing Cinematic Scale.

In narrative cinema scale allows for spatial organization within a single image and across image-events.  Scale relates to the optics of focal length (long, medium, close) in a single shot and to shot scales in the diegesis.  I will examine these two uses of scale in narrative cinema but to do so necessitate an inspection of the concept of scale and its schizophrenia.  Scale is a (non)representational practice that precedes and structures the architecture of the image.  Scale is an analogy based on an agreed set of societal conventions that compares things based on similarity while concealing its alterity, its schizophrenia.  The schizophrenia of scale manifests through the coexistence of incongruent and antagonistic elements: unity/fragmentation, coherence/infinite, difference as separation/difference as multiplicity, binding representation to coherence/blinding representation of coherence.  Scale’s schizophrenia is essential to understanding how it is used in practice and how its meanings oscillate in given contexts.

Harriet Hawkinshah7@aber.ac.ukUniversity of AberystwythVirtual Panoramas: Digital Media Art and the Remaking of the Spectator.

This paper reports on an ongoing study of the work of the Canadian-Swiss media artist Marie-France Bojanowski, and her experiments with the Native Systems Computer Lab (Zurich Switzerland).  Bojanowski is one of a growing number of digital media artists who use contemporary technologies to extend the twentieth century artistic tradition of orchestrating audience reflection on their experience of space.  In her ongoing project ‘The Hidden Room’ Bojanowski is working with programmers and engineers to create an immersive virtual panorama, which is rendered interactive by being combined with the lab’s wearable computing devices that monitor brain waves, heart-beat and even the hormonal levels of their wearers.  This paper situates Bojanowski’s virtual rendering of the historically immersive experiences of the panorama in an historical trajectory that intersects technology, aesthetics and changing understandings of the spectator-subject and their experiences of space (Crary 2001; Della Dora 2007; Doel 2005).  In doing so, it questions how these understandings can be reworked when considered in the light of geography’s recent engagement with neuro-plasticities, and the subjects and spatialities proffered by such enfoldings of mind, body and matter ( Ash 2010; Dewsbury 2011; Bissell forthcoming).

John Paul Jones III, jpjones@email.arizona.edu, University of Arizona, Linda Vigdor, lvigdor@paraspace.comUniversity of Illinoisand Keith Woodward, kwoodward@wisc.eduUniversity of Wisconsin. Artists and Scientists in 3-D

This paper reports on a component of an ongoing UK-US research project into artist-scientist collaborations.  Based on months of organizational ethnography in the Advanced Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois’ National Center for Supercomputer Applications, we examine the integration of scientific and artistic research methodologies in the 3D visualization of numerous terrestrial and cosmic phenomena, from tornadoes and ocean currents to planets and galaxies in formation. The AVL’s work is organized around Renaissance Teams (Cox 1985), clusters of collaborating scientists, artists, and programmers whose work spans and integrates the historic and contemporary boundaries of scientific research and immersive experiences readable by the public. The AVL’s approaches illustrate the complexities required in visualizing the data-rich models of contemporary computational science with the historic bifurcations in art and science practice.

Session II

Allison Carruth, acarruth@stanford.eduStanford University & University of Oregon. “Bioart: The Practice and Politics of Art-Science Collaboration.

This research project examines the role of art-science collaboration within the avant-garde cultural movement known as bioart. The aim is to investigate the legal, political, and ethical stakes of several recent bioart projects, all of which articulate a radical environmental politics through experiments with genetic engineering. The research questions are two-fold: First, as bioart installations re-contextualize biotechnologies such as transgenic seeds and DNA sequencing tools, how do they affect the social discourse surrounding those technologies? Second, how does bioart intervene in both the environmental ethics and ecological impacts of contemporary life science research in the United States? Based on preliminary findings, I hypothesize that bioart signals a paradigm shift within Western environmentalism from historical emphases on natural environments, endangered species, and resource conversation toward new investments in built environments, engineered bodies, and resource generation. This shift, in turn, invites collaboration between the interdisciplinary fields of environmental studies and science and technology studies.

Mrill Ingrammrilli@email.arizona.eduUniversities of Arizona & WisconsinThe Diplomacy of Art: How Ecological Artists Negotiate Science and Politics.

Ecological art expands the way humans perceive the natural world, providing possibilities for more diverse interactions between humans and nonhumans and opportunities to develop new awareness about the interdependence of humans and environment.  Characterized by collaborations with scientists, engineers, planners, and community members, the work of ecological artists aims to remediate and restore degraded places, and often to remedy associated social injustices.  Targeting urban riverfronts as well as secluded island marshes, encompassing entire watersheds and coastlines as well as pocket parks, these artist-initiated environmental efforts offer a new model for ecological restoration.  In this presentation I share some examples of this practically-oriented art, and suggest that the work of these artists may be understood as what Isabele Stengers has conceived of as “diplomacy.” Negotiating across geographical, institutional, personal, species, and disciplinary contexts and boundaries, ecological artists do not seek to singularly represent the natural world so much as to provide for attachments to the nonhuman that “have the power to make practitioners think, feel and hesitate,”  (Stengers 2010, 15).  It is this power, she suggests, that provokes human thought, and consequently opens up possibilities for new notions of how we might expand our political processes to include the nonhumans with which we share the world.

Susan Schwartzenburg, sschwartzenberg@exploratorium.eduExploratorium: the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception.  Toward a pedagogy of observation.

In 2013 the Exploratorium will move to piers 15 and 17 on the San Francisco waterfront. At this urban edge of SF Bay the museum is designing an experimental/multidisciplinary space from which to explore the local landscape.The Observatory is an optically transparent, second-story room with indoor/outdoor areas strategically sited for explorations of urban San Francisco and the Bay. Though this region appears as a continuous panorama, it is a landscape of change and imagination that is both natural and engineered. Inviting observation and interpretation through an array of multi-disciplinary experiences, the Observatory will be home to exhibits, instruments, artworks, media, tours and artifacts designed to uncover the many stories embedded in the natural and built worlds. This talk presents the conceptual and pedagogical underpinnings of a space designed to foster “inquiries” of observation. 

Discussant:  Kevin McHugh, KMcHugh@asu.edu, Arizona State University

APCG Panel Session

Art/Science Collaborations and the Challenge of Public Impact  

Session Organizer: Sallie Marston, marston@email.arizona.edu, University of Arizona

Session Chair & Discussant: John Paul Jones, III, jpjones@email.arizona.edu, University of Arizona

Contemporary art/science collaborations have a history, now sufficiently extensive that we can begin to probe how successful such collaborations are in increasing public art and scientific literacy and fostering public engagement with the pressing issues and questions they represent. Most art/sci collaborators have explicit goals with respect to the publics with whom they share their work. These include, for example, promoting art about climate change in order to foster a cultural shift toward more environmentally benign living; or increasing public understanding of scientific knowledge in order to encourage informed public critique of the ethical and cultural issues that surround it. Of course, ‘impact’ as well as ‘public’ is defined and conceptualized differently across the wide range of art/science collaborations that are emerging from both the sciences and humanities.  In this session we are especially interested to address both the broader ways that public impact is being defined and used, as well as specific questions about what this means for the roles of art and science in society.  What are the underpinning assumptions of what art/science enables in terms of implications, interactions, and impacts? As a range of institutions, enterprises and funding councils instrumentalize art as a set of practices aesthetically assembled in the context of science communication, this panel explores what form this ‘use’ of art takes, and what if anything is exceptional about art practices in this context. How should we measure impact? And what value, if any, are geographical tool-kits and sensibilities in our investigations of the ‘public’ impacts of these art/science collaborations?

 Harriet Hawkinshah7@aber.ac.ukUniversity of Aberystwyth

Joshua Gutwilljoshuag@exploratorium.eduExploratorium: the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception

Jeffrey Babcockjbabcock@leonardo.infoInterim Director, Leonardo/ISAST

Marina McDougallmmcdougall@exploratorium.eduExploratorium: the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception

Irène Hedigerirene.hediger@zhdk.chZurich University of the Arts


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