Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The gap between thinking and doing

There's an interesting article in Wired UK this month about art/science convergence, though it isn't presented as such.

Artist Olafur Eliasson is a hybrid. A artist who was first a trained draftsman and architect, whose interest in bodies and spaces came out of his experience as a teenaged break dancer.

In his parent's homeland of Iceland, "he learned the power of defamiliarisation - the feeling you have when seeing things presented in a surprising way that makes you feel you're seeing them for the first time."

As an artist, Eliasson is interested in, "How do I take a feeling I carry within myself and give it shape? What's the gap between thinking and doing, idea and action?" Everyone at his highly collaborative 90-person studio is pushing for "non-quantifiable success criteria".

"Something you can neither see nor feel is hard to think about and easy to ignore; religion is helped by its icons and ritual, whereas environmentalists must rely on over-familiar, depressing footage of melting ice caps and denuded rainforest."

"Fundamental to Eliasson's work is the belief, rooted in phenomenology and gestalt psychology, that in changing an individuals' perception of their surroundings, art actually changes the world. The studio is based on a shared conviction on art and creativity as means of change, and 'because we are looking at things from an artistic angle, we consider things relevant that other people would not.'"

Eliasson is interested in somatic knowledge. "How do we change the world and push it away from being so obsessive with measurable success results?" he asks.

It seems to me that this somatic response is the thing that underlies science, and makes us care enough to do that work in the first place.

But, as with Eliasson, inchoate interest in phenomena can just as easily manifest itself as art. Or both simultaneously: FSML as exploratory art studio in service of basic scientific discovery.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Art as Cultural Diplomacy

This expired Call For Papers by Cassandra Sciortino, University of California - Santa Barbara is a fascinating example of seeking problem solution through art.

This idea is a strong theme in FSML art programs that seek to enhance fundamental discovery and push scientific knowledge through to social policy and action.

The CFP was for a panel of the recent Re-Inventing Eastern Europe (The Fourth Edition) conference in Kraków, Poland. Presented topics included some information that is philosophically interesting and highly pertinent to ambitious FSML art programs, including:
CFP: Art as Cultural Diplomacy (Krakow, 24-26 Apr 2015)

Krakow, April 24 - 26, 2015
Deadline: Mar 23, 2015

Call for Papers for the Panel: Art as Cultural Diplomacy: (Re)Constructing Notions of Eastern and Western Europe

(As part of the Fourth Euroacademia International Conference ‘Re-Inventing Eastern Europe’, to be held in Krakow, Poland in 24th - 26th of April 2015, including a visit to Auschwitz – Birkenau on 26th of April 2015)

Deadline: 23rd of March 2015

Art as Cultural Diplomacy: (Re)Constructing Notions of Eastern and Western Europe Panel Proposed by: Cassandra Sciortino, University of California, Santa Barbara

Panel Description

The panel “Art as cultural diplomacy” seeks papers that explore the function of art (in its broadest definition) as an instrument of cultural diplomacy by the state and, especially, by nongovernmental actors. The main theme of the session is the question of art and diplomacy in Europe before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Papers are welcome which explore issues related to the role of art, diplomacy and the politicization of the European Union and its candidate countries, as are those which consider how the arts have pursued or resisted East-West dichotomies and other narratives of alterity in Europe and worldwide. The panel seeks to combine a wide range of interdisciplinary perspectives to explore how art—its various practices, history, and theory—are an important area of inquiry in the expanding field of cultural diplomacy.

Some examples of topics include:
  • How can art serve as a neutral platform for exchange to promote dialogue and understanding between foreign states?
  • How can art, including organized festivals (i.e. film, art, music.), cultivate transnational identities that undermine dichotomies of East and West, and other narratives of alterity in Europe and beyond it?
  • The implications for art as an instrument of diplomacy in a postmodern age where geopolitics and power are increasingly mobilized by image based structures of persuasion
  • How has/can art facilitate cohesion between European Union member states and candidate states that effectively responds to the EU’s efforts to create “unity in diversity.”
  • The politics of mapping Europe: mental and cartographic
  • Community based art as a social practice to engage issues of European identity
  • The difference between art as cultural diplomacy and propaganda
  • The digital revolution and the emergence of social media as platforms for art to communicate across social, cultural, and national boundaries?
  • Diplomacy in the history of art in Europe and Eastern Europe
  • Artists as diplomats
  • Art history as diplomacy—exhibitions, post-colonial criticism, global art history, and other revisions to the conventional boundaries of Europe and its history of art
  • The international activity of cultural institutes

Please apply on-line or submit abstracts of less than 300 words together with the details of affiliation until 23rd of March 2015 to

For full details of the conference, please see before applying the conference website:

CFP: Art as Cultural Diplomacy (Krakow, 24-26 Apr 2015). In: H-ArtHist, Mar 4, 2015 (accessed Sep 25, 2015).
Thanks to ArtHist for the original post

2015 London Design Festival

Some beautiful and evocative environment-themed artwork appeared at the recent 2015 London Design Festival. Here are some standouts:

"Designed by Austrian designers mischer'traxler, the installation comprises 250 mouth-blown glass globes, each containing a single laser-cut, foil-printed insect. As infrared motion sensors attached to the hanging bulbs sense a visitor's presence, the insects start to frantically fly around in their glass containers, like a cabinet of curiosities come to life."

"Designer Tino Schaedler of Optimist Design has created the first Virtual Reality experience at London Design Festival. A black fiberglass sculpture has a VR helmet for the visitor to use and experience a transformation of the room (as pictured). The team collaborated with sound designers Nordmeister from LA, to enhance the experience with spatial sound design."

"This bench is made from a unique material called Concrete Canvas, which is a mouldable version of normal concrete. The material comes as a flexible fabric which hardens when you add water to form a thin, durable, waterproof and fire-resistant concrete layer. It can be used to create temporary housing and reduces the environmental impact of concrete building by up to 95pc."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Innovative public outreach at Sanibel Captiva

Hi, Thought this might be of interest for the blog on a collaboration with the Rauschenberg foundation.


Xavier Cortada
Caloosahatchee CLEER (create, learn, exchange, entertain and restore) is a multi modal event to open conversations with the public about the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation's science and policy initiatives while creating community art pieces and listening to three professional singer/songwriters. 

The event includes the opportunity to paint wooden message fish to be delivered to Tallahassee, make personal pledges to help clean the water, and enjoy the creation of four iconic art pieces commissioned for the project by Xavier Cortada, an environmental restoration artist. 

It has been demonstrated by similar past events, discussing science and policy with residents and visitors in more informal one-on-one festive setting, people delve deeper into the subject of water quality around Sanibel and Captiva. It has also gives SCCF an opportunity to gauge the knowledge people already have and where educational needs may exist.

Musicians for the two November events are J Robert Houghtaling of Marco, Austin Church of Cocoa Beach and Brent Moyer of Nashville TN and Jackson WY.

We have done 3 events like this in the past and people have been great. It is the first time I am putting all the components together after a Communicating Science workshop. 

Eric C. Milbrandt, Ph.D.
Marine Laboratory
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
900A Tarpon Bay Rd.
Sanibel, FL 33957

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

SUNY-ESF's Northern Forest Institute Environmental Philosophy Program

Frances Gaffney's "Extension - Orbitals".
I've been meaning to share links to local public radio coverage of our Artist in Residence program, now in its second year:
We've also put out a CFP for a spring symposium considering land use and ethics from the perspective of poetics. and I'm working on a project interpreting historic field notes from the Huntington Forest as poetry. I think both of these projects fit with the convergence of art and science that we're concerned with, if you think so, I'll keep you and the group posted!

With care, Marianne

Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, PhD
SUNY-ESF's Northern Forest Institute
Environmental Philosophy Program

Arts Associated with the Luquillo Experimental Forest and LTER Site, Puerto Rico

Arts Associated with the Luquillo Experimental Forest and LTER Site, Puerto Rico – A Report by Dr. Grizelle Gonzalez, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, US Forest Service, and Luquillo Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research Program

The US Forest Service Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) and Luquillo Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program have helped organize a series of arts activities, including an art exhibit, artist residencies, publication of books, and other outreach activities.  The exhibit, organized with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in Santurce, Puerto Rico, broke attendance records for the museum and won two awards:  1) 2014 USFS Wilderness Legacy Award and 2) Best 2014 Collective Exhibition in Puerto Rico awarded by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). AICA is based in Paris and it is affiliated to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  Currently there are plans to take the exhibit to Chicago and link to the Hispanic community in the area.

El Toro Wilderness Residency, A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration took place during the month of March, 2013 in collaboration with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness
Research Institute and the Colorado Art Ranch, as part of the commemoration of the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary.  After the finalization of the residency and during 2013, plans were made to develop the exhibit “Poetic Science: arts-science approximations to el Yunque” that would 1) bring to fruition the celebration of the research/work for the benefit of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, 2) show the general public the benefits of an arts and science collaboration, 3) bring science produced at the Institute to the general public and 4) could also improve employee morale.  The list below highlights the various activities by which IITF engaged in a parallel calendar of educational activities that used the exhibit as a template for reaching the public via conversations, field trips, scientific demonstrations to teachers and students from all over Puerto Rico, using online publications, an audiovisual presentation and hardcopy products, such as literary books inspired by the arts and science residency in El Toro Wilderness.

List of most significant outcomes of the arts and science collaboration:
1.     Associated Educational Activities:
The exhibition “Poetic Science” resulted from the work of artists and scientists that participated in the March, 2013 residency. And from this exhibition the “Documenting of Poetic Science” collaborative project was developed to highlight how the process of documentation, exploration and research are common to art and science. A series of workshops, seminars and activities were developed between IITF and MAC for those purposes.

Opening of the exhibition – All IITF Staff was involved in the exhibition (February 6, 2014).

Workshops with middle school student’s once a week during 3 months:  Maria Rivera was working on the piece by artist Aline Veillat; she used it to teach students the soil sampling techniques and the importance of earthworms in the soil ecosystem. María Rivera also demonstrated the functions of the climate station.  Samuel Moya, Maysaá Ittayem and Carlos Estrada assisted in these activities, when María Rivera was working in other activities.

MAC Teacher’s Club (Activity of curriculum integration) - Dr. Tamara Heartsill participated in these activities that integrated science and art (February 21, 2014).

Art Dreams/ Scavenger Hunt (Interactive activity that integrated science and art for elementary school kids) Maysaá Ittayem participated in these activities (February 28, 2014).

Urban Wilderness Workshop- Dr. Tamara Heartsill and Dr. Ariel. Lugo collaborated with artists from “Piso Proyecto”, to educate teachers and the general public about the concept of “Urban Wilderness” while doing a fieldtrip of the green spaces in the city of Santurce (March 1, 2014).

Panel discussion with scientist and artist - Dr. Grizelle González was part of the scientific panel in that discussed the book “ Libro de Fechas y la poética de la tierra”, by the Artist Elizabeth Robles, that was inspired by her experience as a guest artist in the residency (March 14, 2014).

Panel discussion with scientists and artists about the exhibition, open to the general public. Institute scientists talked about the Poetic Science exhibition (the merging of arts and science in the study of El Toro Wilderness). Drs. Ariel Lugo, Grizelle González, William Gould and Tamara Heartsill participated in the panel (March 26, 2014).

“Documentation of Poetic Science” Teacher’s Seminar. A full day seminar with science and art teacher’s. These full day seminar included a visit to El Yunque National Forest.

2. Written Articles:
González, G., (In Press, In English and Spanish). “Puerto Rico Puerta al Paisaje: desde una perspectiva ecológica” /Puerto Rico: Gateway to Landscape from an Ecological Perspective. ISBN: 978-1-881723-15-8. Pp. 283-287 In: Puerto Rico Puerta al Paisaje.  Ramirez Aponte, M., Marichal Lugo, F., Ramos Collado, L. et al. (Eds)
Blog (In Spanish) : El Libro de las fechas: una bitácora sobre el ejercicio la mirada (April 15, 2014)
Article (In Spanish): La captura imposible (March 28, 2014)
Article (In Spanish): Letras (March 25, 2014)
Article (In Spanish): Arte y Ciencia Unidos en el MAC Escenario Page 31(February 4, 2014)

3. Books:
Robles, E. (2014) El libro de fechas. San Juan, PR. ISBN: 978-1-881723-14-1
Robles, E. (2014) Rescoldo Arrebol. San Juan, PR. Secta de Perros ISBN: 978-1-61887-406-1
Ramirez Aponte, M., Marichal Lugo, F., Ramos Collado, L., Laureano, J.E., Oliver, M.F., Raquejo Grado, T., Rivera, D., Abruña, F., Mignucci, A., Jiménez Martínez, T. M., González, G., Rodríguez Casellas, M. In press. Puerto Rico Puerta al Paisaje.  ISBN: 978-1-881723-15-8. 

4. List of collaborating artists:
Aline Veillat, Switzerland             
Jonathan Cohrs, New York          
Grisha Coleman, School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the School of Dance at Arizona State University       
Dhara Rivera, Escuela de Artes Plásticas of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico                        
Noemí Segarra  (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico                      
Félix Rodríguez (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico                     
Iván Acosta (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico
Mariela Parrilla (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico
Natalia Muñoz   (Piso Proyecto), Puerto Rico      
Javier Suarez,  Puerto Rico
Jaime Suarez,  Puerto Rico

5. Videos on the arts and science collaboration can be found at:

Short version (3:10 min):

Extended interviews (12:50 min):

An Arts and Science Collaboration - El Toro Wilderness from FS Tropical Forestry on Vimeo.

Compiled by Grizelle Gonzalez and revised 9/21/15

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Request to form OBFS Ad Hoc ArtSciConverge Committee

Gothic Community Center.
In September, 2014, a Working Group on Art@FSMLs formed during the Wood's Hole Organization of Biological Field Stations/National Association of Marine Laboratories (OBFS/NAML) Joint Meeting. The group started this blog, and began to explore ways to facilitate and encourage art at sites of long-term environmental research.

Last week, OBFS held their 2015 Annual Meeting at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, CO, along with concurrent meetings of the Global Network of Mountain Observatories (GNOMO) and iDigBio.

Photos here.

The Working Group presented an update of activities, and examples of several field station and marine lab art programs.

The OBFS Board recognized the growing importance of supporting interdisciplinary field station use, and is converting the Art@FSMLs Working Group into a permanent Ad Hoc Committee within the organization.

Local resident

View presentations: 
  • Intro and update (PDF)

  • Cedar Point, NE (PDF)

  • ArtLab, Mountain Lake, VA (PDF)

  • Art at LUMCON, LA (PDF)

* * *

Watch additional FSML art program videos:

Ann Carlson at Jasper Ridge...

Picture Jasper Ridge. A performance hike by artist, Ann Carlson. from Stanford Arts Institute on Vimeo.

Art at Cedar Point...

Art at Cedar Point from Kat Shiffler on Vimeo.

ARTnews article on the Art/Sci movement

80SW/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2007, part of
Tomás Saraceno’s series of inflatable sculptures
meant to simulate a floating city.
The March 2013 issue of ARTnews holds a fascinating article on art-science convergence that identifies a lot of the innovative players, including artist Brandon Ballengee, who participated in the recent ArtSciConverge meeting in Reno, NV.
In museums, schools, and research facilities, scientists and artists are swapping methods to illuminate natural phenomena and solve global problems.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Creative Disturbance

Creative Disturbance is an international, multilingual network and podcast platform supporting collaboration among the arts, sciences, and new technologies communities.

Creative Disturbance is doing a series of podcasts on art and climate change as part of a participation in COP21.

If anyone has art and climate change podcasts they would like published, please contact Susan Erickson on their art and earth science channel (or the YASMIN listserv).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Artist talk

Join us at the Harvard Forest this Friday, September 18th for an artist talk with David Buckley Borden as he presents new projects that demonstrate the power of combining multiple disciplines (art, design, and science) to spotlight pressing environmental issues and everyday ecological phenomena. Borden’s work promotes a shared environmental awareness and heightened cultural value of ecology in a variety of media, ranging from site-specific installations in the woods to data-driven maps in the gallery.

David Buckley Borden – Artist & Landscape Architect, Cambridge, MA
Hybrid Vigor | Ecology x Art x Design
Friday, 18 September, 2015 at 11:00 a.m., Harvard Forest Seminar Room

You may also join remotely in real-time via the web – slides and audio available at:

All the best,

Audrey Barker Plotkin
Site and Research Manager
Harvard Forest, 324 N. Main St.
Petersham, MA 01366
978-724-3595 (FAX)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

a2ru Programs, and Groundworks Conference Announcement, November 8-11, 2015

The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) generates knowledge, advocacy, and resources that enable universities to integrate arts and design practices, fostering highly adaptive creators and thinkers.

The above quotes come from a2ru's extensive Knowledge Base that provides information that enables research universities to adapt effective strategies for integrating arts practice, and to support and inform further original inquiry. They also offer project grants, and request assistance in compiling relevant studies and examples of original research collaborations.

* * *

The 2015 a2ru National Conference takes place November 8-11, 2015 at Virginia Tech. From their webiste:

"GroundWorks: Improving and Supporting Practice in the Third Space" will convene partners and allies to address the next generation of opportunities and challenges facing arts transdisciplinary practice, peer review, infrastructures, and partnerships in research universities.

Registration is open to all.

  • Disseminate and leverage the Mellon Best Practices Guide to improve practice and infrastructure. Develop and test set of shared values and criteria for peer reviewing, critiquing, and understanding research and creative practice in the third space.
  • Make progress towards a peer-reviewed aggregator/forum for arts transdisciplinary research and practice.
  • Lay groundwork for shared practices guidelines for third space research and practice in S.E.A.D, Arts + Health, and Arts + Social Entrepreneurship endeavors.
  • Explore emerging cultural policy platforms through high-impact regional partnerships.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Case study: Stroud Water Research Center

Stroud Water Research Center (red), and the Brandywine
River Museum (blue), which is renowned for its holdings
of the Wyeth family of artists.
Arts at the Stroud Water Research Center.

Notes by Fred Swanson 9/8/2015.

These comments are based on an encounter with Director Bern Sweeney at the 2015 LTER All-Scientists Meeting in Estes Park, CO, which he had been invited to attend as lead of an LTREB project. I first encountered Bern while visiting with Robin Vannote, then Director of Stroud, during the River Continuum Concept (RCC) project period of the late 1970s and later as I visited my parents who lived only 25 mi away in northern-most Delaware.


The Stroud Water Research Center was established in 1967 in the Brandywine Creek valley, southeastern Pennsylvania. The Stroud family owns extensive rolling farm and forest land in the area where they have a long history of crop, dairy, and poultry production. The Stroud home (mansion) contains an impressive art collection (I viewed it during a dinner for a gathering of scientists working on a renewal proposal for the RCC), and the agreement to create the Stroud Center facilities and program stipulated that art be displayed in the facilities, even chemistry labs where the air quality can damage the art.

At the 2015 All-Scientists Meeting Bern told this story:

 Mr. Stroud called him up one morning and asked him to go over to the house. When Bern arrived, Mr. Stroud told him that one of the many art pieces in the house had been appraised in the range of $1.5 - 2 million, and if Bern could pick it out, the piece would be sold and the funds donated to the endowment for the Stroud Center.

Bern gave a couple tries and failed, so Mr. Stroud took him to the front entryway and identified a very large brown painting with a single, horizontal black stripe – a Rothko. Eventually the transaction was conducted.

Art has been a part of the Stroud Center programs in many forms, especially in education programs. One such class involves art students learning about aquatic science while canoeing down the Brandywine Creek. At one point in the program they collect and view aquatic invertebrates under microscopes streamside, and then are asked to take a sheet of paper and draw their favorite mayfly or caddisfly that they have collected.

 However, they are asked to draw the critter with one half of it showing the individual “as is” and then, let their creative juices flow, and draw the other half freeform to better represent their impressions from the field experience. Eventually the class makes its way downstream and pulls out on a grassy bank. The students go to the nearby house where artist Jamie Wyeth (of the many generations of famous Wyeth artists in the area) greets them and shows them around his studio.