Saturday, December 17, 2016

STEM to STEAM discussion on YASMIN


Announcing a YASMIN discussion beginning Dec 19

What does STEM to STEAM mean: New Ideas or Hot Moist Air ?

Moderator: Roger Malina
Discussants: Dimitris Charitos ( Greece), Guillermo Munoz ( Spain,
currently a nanoscience postdoc in Japan)

if you want to participate as an invited respondent- contact

As you know there is an international discussion on "stem to steam"
concepts and approaches for new art/sci/tech teaching and research
methods.  There is much debate and discussion on whether the ideas
behind STEM to STEAM are new in anyway, or whether the phrase is a
repacking of current work in a way to attract new funding ( for an
understanding the social and cultural processes at work in 'selling'
programs like stem to steam - on  a larger scale- see for instance
Patrick McCray's detailed book called The Visioneers: How a Group of
Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a
Limitless Future   )

The US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine are
currently conducting a two year study to address  the higher education
part of the question:

Integrating Higher Education in the
Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

The European Union has initiated the STARTS (science technology and
the arts ) funding program:

which seeks to address the innovation argument:

STARTS encourages synergies between the Arts and innovation for
technology and society by promoting the inclusion of artists in
Horizon 2020 projects.An increasing number of high-tech companies
assert that scientific and technological skills alone are not
sufficient anymore. In this context, the Arts are gaining prominence
as catalysts for an efficient conversion of science and technology
knowledge into novel products, services, and processes.

We are proposing a discussion on the YASMIN discussion list on
this topic on Drec 19-2016-all members of the yasmin community
welcome to participate

in our own School at the University of Texas at Dallas faculty members are
learning how to teach science and engineering differently using STEAM
approaches: eg


Karen Doore:
Curriculum Re-Design: Computer Science for ATEC Students
Karen Doore will present an overview of curriculum for CS
programming-sequence courses for ATEC and will include student
projects showcasing top student works. There are significant
challenges and difficulties in attempting to teach complex technical
material to a diverse student groups, particularly when many students
question the premise that these CS courses provide value for the
effort that is required to learn the course content. There are
current efforts to re-design curriculum for these courses. She is
looking for feedback and suggestions that can further guide the
curriculum re-design efforts.

About Karen Doore

Karen Doore is a Senior Lecturer and PhD Candidate in the Computer
Science Department at UT Dallas. Her research focus is Computer
Science Education, with an emphasis on curriculum design for
Non-Majors. She earned her BS in Material Science and Engineering from
the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and an MS in Computer
Science with a focus on Intelligent Systems from UT Dallas. She
currently teaches required CS programming-sequence courses for ATEC
students, and has been working for several years as part of the
re-design effort for the curriculum of these courses. Her new
curriculum has an enhanced focus on computational modeling, so that,
in addition to learning fundamental programming concepts, students
learn how to model dynamic, interactive systems. One goal of this
modeling focus is to provide students with skills to design,
communicate about, and implement dynamic interactive programs, such as
games, animations, and design tools

Our school of Art Tecnology and Emerging Communication has also
announced 6 full PhD scholarships including STEM to STEAM creative
work and research.

for the YASMIN discusson we are interested in STEM to STEAM topics
in artistic work, art-sci-tech research, education and personal behaviour !!

Hopefully STEM to STEAM is not just vapor ware !

Roger Malina
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Patterns of narrative

More and more, it seems clear that human thought naturally organizes itself along patterns of narrative.

Story is how we process and understand our world, then encode that information to pass along to others. There is an argument that information passed down through aboriginal Australian songs may encode verifiable geological events from 8,000 years ago. Their visual art tradition appears to do something similar. And--at its best--what is the Judeo-Christian bible if not distilled wisdom about how to be a human from about 10,000 years ago to 100 a.d.?

Business theory accepts this idea. The "knowledge transfer cycle" states that:
"Knowledge can be stored in databases, documentation, process tables, decision trees, wikis and quick reference guides. But one of the most powerful ways to store knowledge is through stories. Much knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, exists in the minds of the experts and can be made accessible through mentoring or through connections using social media tools."
In the 1960's, Philosopher Roland Barthes worked to understand in narrative, "a principle of classification and a basis of description," pointing out that "there is a deep gulf between the most complex product of chance, and the most simple conscious construction..." He looked for the rules governing narrative construction in narrative itself: all narrative.

More recently, story narrative has been getting attention from science.
"...mathematicians at the University of Vermont have now looked at more than 1,000 texts to see if they could automatically extract their emotional arcs. And their results show something interesting, not just about narratives, but also about using this approach to study literature."
Using digitized texts from Project Gutenberg, the study found 6 consistent patterns of story. And--startlingly--these patterns hold not just in fiction but in non-fiction as well. We impose these patterns on all communication.

So what does that mean to FSMLs? Only that if we are not creating our own narrative, someone else will do it for us (and we may not be happy with the results). Understanding narrative may be a scientific process, but creating it is not: it is an artistic one.

a2ru Lays Out Aggressive Agenda for Role of Arts

"At the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) conference this month in Denver, representatives from over 30 member universities talked about the need to reinvent the college curriculum, and retrain faculty too. Our students, many said, need the new thinking skills for the new economy or they will fail to get a job. The so-called 'jobless recovery' will march on but with fewer and fewer American kids...using the arts and arts integration, teaching through the arts, has the most potential to change the basic curriculum. 
Taken together, these techniques will engage students; enhance their memory and retention. Importantly, it will give them the skills they need to compete in an economy that values not just knowledge but creativity that leads to innovation. 
Yes, there are other ways to generate creativity but as Laurie Baefsky, an extremely talented executive with skills in the arts, education and conference management, and Executive Director of a2ru put it: 'arts integration is the bullet train' to acquiring creativity..."
Read complete article at Huff Post.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Art needs science

The value to science and scientists of connecting to art is something we have explored extensively in this blog, i.e. this post. In making this connection at field research sites and marine labs, society benefits hugely from the increased discovery and outreach potential that artists can bring.

But society also benefits by increasing the environmental literacy of artists. The art/sci disconnect comes from both sides (see this discussion). Art builds culture, and in the absence of ecological understanding, aesthetics can make disastrous messes:
"We have come a long way in our understanding of introduced species in the century since publication of the Journal of Ecology began. One hundred years ago, introductions were widely celebrated, and acclimatization societies were busy ‘enriching’ the flora and fauna in many regions world-wide. Some of the more notable achievements of acclimatization societies include introducing starlings and house sparrows to the United States (in an attempt to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to New York’s Central Park; Marzluff et al. 2008)...and distributing ornamental plant species such as Lantana camara and Miconia calvescens to gardens world-wide (Meyer 1996CRC Weed Management 2003)." -- Moles, et al

CFP: Land Use and Ethics in Search of a Wild-Earthen God

June 9-11, 2017

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute
At Huntington Wildlife Forest

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute invites submissions for its fourth symposium of interdisciplinary scholarship in land use and ethics.

Author and environmental activist Wallace Stegner grounded his argument for the protection of wild places in the spiritual imagination. Wilderness was a landscape that he said was worth saving for the likelihood that it might in turn save us soulfully. Stegner is one of many who rest their defense of wilderness on the idea of open plains, deep forests and vast deserts as spiritual centers. Philosopher Henry Bugbee calls us to a sabbatical placement in wild places where the rituals of mindfulness, of acknowledgement, keep faith with the deliverances of solitude.

More than merely employing the language of redemption, these philosophers, writers and activists trace the reverence humans have felt for wild nature from indigenous cultures forward to the men who corrupted Judeo-Christian teachings in order to colonize and devastate them. In every known spiritual tradition, wild geographies are thought to be earthen domains of grace even as we acknowledge a national history of perverting faith traditions in order to subdue and violate other communities who nevertheless share a vision of the value of wild nature.

Wilderness advocates who turn towards the mythical and the spiritual value of these so-called landscapes of hope in fact make an ecological argument that honors the sanctity and the complementarity of all living things with rights to exist independent of species, kind and importantly, extractive human usefulness. The wild as mystical landscape is complex territory, and still pan- cultural theological, spiritual, transcendental and inspirational arguments for land preservation remain one compelling and important moral approach.

We welcome submissions related to the Symposium theme from perspectives including and not limited to Traditional Ecological Knowledge, spiritual ecology, eco-theology, deep ecology, Gaia theory, animism as well as eco-spiritual and theological resistance to industrial, social and political ruin of wild and natural ecosystems. We will accept 15 proposals that together are meant to generate a discussion around this variety of approaches to land use, the moral implications and usefulness of these approaches, as well as the ways that they influence the ongoing debate over how to achieve social and environmental justice. Submissions are encouraged from emerging or established writers and scholars, activists as well as anyone whose primary work lies outside the liberal arts and/or academia.


DEADLINE for submissions is January 15, 2017. All submissions must be submitted as a Word document via e-mail to Symposium Chair Marianne Patinelli-Dubay according to the guidelines below. Acceptance notifications will go out no later than February 15, 2017 along with detailed travel and accommodation information, preliminary information is below.

Electronic submissions require the following: 
  • Title
  • 250 word abstract and paper is not to exceed 4,500 words 
  • Author information:
    • Affiliation (independent writers and scholars are welcome) 
    • Full name
    • Daytime phone
    • E-mail
    • Mailing address


Submissions: One aim of this meeting is to provide a collegial environment for new and in-process work, and for ideas to be offered for comment and critique. If the paper/essay is not completed at the time of submission, the committee will accept an abstract and may contact the author for additional information prior to making a decision. The Symposium Chair will accept electronic submissions and distribute them blindly to the committee.

**Event Style: Authors will not read their work in traditional conference style. Instead, in turn, each participant will present key ideas and questions raised in/by their work that she/he would like to pursue in conversation. In this way, the symposium discussion will be conducted in round-table or seminar fashion and participants will receive a reader including all of the accepted papers no later than April 15, 2017. Participants should read the packet prior to the event in order to allow for full participation in the discussion. Each presentation is meant to further the overall discussion and for this reason, presenters are expected to participate in the entire program scheduled between noon on Friday, June 9 and Sunday, June 11, 2017.

Confirmation: Anyone making a submission will receive confirmation of receipt within 48 hours. If you have not received confirmation of receipt and/or notification regarding the Program Committee’s decision about your submission by February 15, 2017 please contact Marianne Patinelli-Dubay.


  • All correspondence regarding submission and/or program content should be directed to Symposium Chair Marianne Patinelli-Dubay
  • Meals, accommodations will be provided on-site and included in the cost of participation. For information on registration, fees, lodging and accommodations contact Guest Services Manager Daphne Taylor.

Friday, October 28, 2016

How Art, Science and Technology Interact in Southern California

"Southern California and other large cosmopolitan arenas, as places for cultural intersection and memetic alchemy, are where creative economies best flourish and thus evolve."
Los Angeles is a metropolitan area of 15-million people. The city is a cautionary tale about the price of poor planning and car-centric development. But, it is also a locus of creative problem-solving that is reimagining its own structure and drawing in artists and creatives from the impossible rents of San Francisco and New York. The sheer scale of the hybrid art/science activity in this megalopolis is astounding.

As an example, this video by KCET profiles art/science convergence at The Studio at Jet Propulsion Laboratories,

Notable art/science interactions in Los Angeles include:
Plus smaller collectives and non-profits like:

Art Science Research Laboratory

"Art Science Research Laboratory (ASRL), a New York based, not-for-profit organization, is committed to the creation of intellectual environment and advocacy of interdisciplinary study, encompassing the areas of research, collections and publishing.

Founded in 1998 by Rhonda Roland Shearer and the late Professor Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), ASRL provides a unique setting where art historians, scientists, artists, designers, and programmers work together. Everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas, participate in a dynamic environment, and challenge the outdated but still prominent structures of practices in the arts, sciences, and humanities."

ArtScience Labs

"Le Laboratoire Cambridge is an interdisciplinary culture lab that invites visitors to explore the experiments and wonders of innovative artists, designers, chefs, and more discovering at the frontiers of science. 
Founded in Paris in 2007 by inventor, material scientist, and Harvard Professor David Edwards, Le Laboratoire now lives in Cambridge as the flagship of ArtScience Labs, a global organization dedicated to radical idea development."
* * *

Le Laboratoire is part of a larger effort at art/sci convergence for cultural change called, Artscience Labs.
"Culture labs conduct or invite experiments in art and design to explore contemporary questions that seem hard or even impossible to address in more conventional science and engineering labs."
"Many of the questions that we face today — questions of innovation, of change — are not really questions we can deal with in a classical science lab."

"Labs are places of experience. We enter to explore. Each minute in a functioning lab is like a page of a smart novel that loses meaning without reference to what came before and is about to follow. 
Art, like science, is such an experience, and, yet, we encounter art and science in our museums more frequently as outcome, as product – dug up, carved down, highly edited – that follows a mysterious process of creative thought and engagement... 
At The Laboratory, we look for novel ideas of art and design that cannot be properly formulated without a sustained encounter with a pioneering edge of science. We then help broker encounters between artists and scientists that permit concrete idea formulation. Once ideas are formulated, we invest in development of the experimental projects that result. In this way, artscience, the process of creative thought that synthesizes esthetic and analytical methods, becomes a catalyst for innovation and the basis for partnership."
ArtScience Labs includes an educational program called the ArtScience Prize, a global "catalyst for student learning through passionate pursuit of innovative art and design ideas at the cutting edge of science...the ArtScience Prize [is] an interdisciplinary education program that supports young people as they explore and develop groundbreaking ideas around an annual scientific theme, seek[ing] to prepare the next generation of innovators."

2013-14 Boston ArtScience Prize from ArtScience Prize on Vimeo.

The winners of all the ArtScience Prize programs are invited to the annual ArtScience Labs Annual Innovation Workshop, which is like a Silicon Valley development incubator.

2015 ArtScience Innovation Workshop from ArtScience Prize on Vimeo.

More videos from ArtScience Labs on Vimeo and Youtube 1 | 2.
Books on ArtScience by David Edwards:


"Stories, of course, are an easy thing to love. They’re how we understand the world… how we pass information from person to person." -- Hank Green
The second annual Nerdcon:Stories took place in Minneapolis on October 14-15, 2016.

Nerdcon:Stories is a multi-disciplinary convention celebrating the socially transformative power of narrative. The convention is organized by Hank and John Green, successful science populizers and YouTube vloggers. Their output includes Crash Course, SciShow, the Brain Scoop, and many other channels and series which have garnered the brothers over 650-million views and 3-million subscribers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Social Sculpture and Climate Change

Like politics, science supports a position. They both have an opinion, though arising out of very different sources.

Politics is a reflection and harnessing of public opinion: the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by a population for whatever reason. Scientific opinion, on the other hand, "harnesses the opinions of many different scientific organizations and entities and individual scientists in the relevant field, and is ultimately based on observation": that is, what is empirically demonstrable. The thing to note here, is that--unlike political consensus--once scientific consensus is reached and knowledge has been created from data, that doesn't mean there has actually been any connection made to public opinion, nor to the mechanisms of social change. Art can fill this disconnect, and has frequently been used by politicians as a tool to effect change in the working of the world.

As an example,  Soviet communist party leaders "depicted the United States as a cultural black hole and cited their own significant culture as evidence that they were the inheritors of the European Enlightenment". The Congress for Cultural Freedoms was organized, operated and funded by the CIA to promote American Abstract Expressionism to Europeans in the 1950's as a superior counterpoint to Soviet agitprop art. This covert operation was enthusiastically supported by New York's MOMA and the Ford Foundation. The CIA, acting secretly due to public and Congressional hostility to modern art, funded numerous traveling European exhibitions, symphonies, and many magazines that provided a platform for favorable art criticism. The aftermath of WWII was a not just a military Cold War, but also a cultural one, fought for the hearts and minds of the European intelligentsia. The fascinating and unsettling full story of the CIA and modern art is told in at least two books and a documentary, Hidden Hands (watch Episode 2 here), by Frances Stonor Saunders. Read Chapter 1 of The Cultural Cold War here.

In fact, the CIA still maintains a collection of important modern art used for agent training.
"We’ll have some of our guys and gals come down here and do a critical analysis of the paintings. Say you’ve got to analyze this big, heavy duty ISIL problem over here — maybe if you come look at the painting, it’ll help you think about how to solve the ISIL problem creatively."
* * *

With climate change emerging as the primary global social problem of the Anthropocene geological era, and a massive obsession of the scientific world, it is startling and alarming that politics is not bending art to address this unprecedented challenge. As Bill McKibbon said, "...though we know about it, we don’t know about it. It hasn’t registered in our gut; it isn’t part of our culture. Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?" Science can't offer this.

In the absence of political support (and funding), artists often seek to make cultural change on their own.
"There are experts in little things, but there are no experts in big things. All of us, no matter what we do, have the right to make moral decisions about the world....Everyone must be involved. -- Rachel Schragis 
The historian says [of war], "It's not my business." The lawyer says, "It's not my business." The businessman says, "It's not my business." And the artist says, "It's not my business." Then whose business is it? Does that mean you are going to leave the business of the most important issues in the world to the people who run the country? How stupid can we be? Haven't we had enough experience historically with leaving the important decisions to the people in the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, and those who dominate the economy?...It is the job of the artist to...think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare to say things that no one else will say. " -- Howard Zinn
Art was supposed to change things … after studying art history, you realize that’s not always the case, but I love that spirit about what art is supposed to be. Art is part of our larger world so it’s not just by itself trying to do that … yeah, so art does change things.” -- Kellie Jones, Curator and Art Historian
Operating, as we do, on the front-lines of climate change, field stations and marine labs do well to engage with and support artists who are interested in the same things we are.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Poetic Science: Artistic-Scientific Approximations about El Yunque

From Fred Swanson...

September 8th, 2016 until March 31st, 2017 

POETIC SCIENCE: artistic-scientific approximations about El Yunque, is an interdisciplinary project created by the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, in alliance with the USDA Forest Service - International Institute of Tropical Forestry. The project unites art and science for the purpose of celebrating Earth, the resources that Earth provides, and the resources protected under the Wilderness Act, enacted in 1964 in order to establish the National Wilderness Preservation System. The project commenced in March 2013, with an artistic residence in the El Yunque National Forest, organized together with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute and the Colorado Art Ranch. Said residence was the first of a series of collaborations that took place in six different ecosystems in the United States throughout 2013.

The residence that took place in Puerto Rico resulted in an innovative project that creatively depicts the value and ecosystem of El Yunque National Forest and the collaboration that took place between the invited artists and scientists from the Forest Service. POETIC SCIENCE presents, for the first time, the artistic and scientific projects born from that collaboration. The exhibition title refers to the oeuvre of the scientist, philosopher and poet Aldo Leopold, considered in the United States to be the father of wildlife conservation. Leopold was the first to articulate, early in the 20th century, the concept of the “land ethic”, and who formulated a new way of thinking and acting towards the land that is still greatly relevant. To this artist/scientist, the true substance of conservation lies, not on physical projects sponsored by the government, but within the mental processes of the people.

For that reason, in addition to revising the relationship between art and science, one of the goals of this project is precisely creating awareness about the natural world and the importance of natural resources in our lives. Art and science are both the product of curiosity and awe; of the experimentation with different perspectives in order to create new forms of seeing and grasping the meaning of what surrounds us. We invite the public to initiate this personal process of exploration through the work of this group of artists and scientists that have proposed a new understanding of our Puerto Rican land.


The Time of the Force Majeure...

The Time of the Force Majeure: After 45 Years, Counterforce is on the Horizon
This book offers a 21st-century manifesto from the pioneers of the eco-art movement. Since the 1970s Helen and Newton Harrison have been creating art inspired by the earth. They established a worldwide network among biologists, ecologists, architects, urban planners, politicians, and other artists to initiate collaborative dialogues about ideas and solutions which support biodiversity and community development. This definitive survey traces an influential joint career that has lasted nearly half a century. Organized chronologically, it features works from each decade, from their earliest installations to their continent-traversing work of the 1990s; and their most recent works both educating people about global warming and designing large scale responses to the phenomena itself.
Helen and Newton Harrison's work demonstrates the surprising power of art to change society and influence or even create environmental policy. The scope and impact of their work is astonishing and transcends typical art boundaries. For example:
  • 1974- Crab Farm. First people in the world to discover how to get a mangrove crab to reproduce and survive in captivity. As a result first artists ever awarded a Sea Grant by Scripps institute. 
  • 1981- Baltimore Promenade. Citywide redesign centered on rebuilding the decaying promenade system in downtown Baltimore creating the cultural corridor. $15 million dollar work was incorporated into the city plan. 
  • 1989- Sava River. Long-term environmental recovery plan for Sava River, the largest tributary of the Danube. Adopted by Croation Water Department prior to breakup of Yugoslavia. Plan survived the Civil Wars and was expanded to neighboring Drava River system. Awarded Nagoya Biennale prize. 
  • 1994-2001 Greenheart Vision. Worked with a team of planners in Holland to save the 800 sq km “Greenheart” of Holland from a $220B destructive development plan. Transformed regional development. Awarded Groenveld prize. 
  • 2005-2007 Greenhouse Britain. 3-year collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to increase climate awareness in England. Large-scale community work successful at democratizing the planning process. Awarded CIWEM prize.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ars Biotica

From Ariane Koek:


Ars Biotica is a long term art and science collaboration between the Finnish society of Bioart, and Kilpisjarvi Biological Station which belongs of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki. It has fostered interdisciplinary work since 2008, hosting arts and science activities as well as an artist in residency programme. The focus of the work is on Arctic nature, biology and ecology, with a special interested in the biology of war, snow and ice, environmental and climate change, and the relations between nature and culture perceived
through the lens of art and science.

Since 2010, around 40 artists from Finland and abroad have participated in the Ars-Bioarctica artist residency programme.

They have also hosted a biennial art and science field lab called Field_Notes that took place in 2011 and 2013. These labs were about supporting artistic fieldwork as a catalyst for other environmental

Currently the majority of collaborations between the artists and the scientists have been initiated by the artists.

Balance-Unbalance, 2016

Balance-Unbalance (BunB) is an International Conference designed to use ART as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

The theme for BunB 2016 was “Data Science + Eco Action”.
How can we extract knowledge from large volumes of environmental and related data? How that can be used in benefit of the human society? What should we change in our thinking and in our behaviour? Individual vs community vs global: What matters? Why big or complex data is so relevant to our daily life? How the capture, analysis, curation, sharing, storage… and control of large data could rapidly change our world? What positive sides does it have? What not so positive, and even risks does it have? What data science has to do with humanitarian organizations? And with electronic art?

We want to inspire explorations of how artists can participate in this major challenge of our ecological crisis. We need to use creative tools and transdisciplinary action to create perceptual, intellectual and pragmatic changes. We want to discuss our proposals for the future from a diversity of cultural perspectives and socio-economic situations with open minds.
If you want to know more about Balance-Unbalance and its associated projects, please download:

Past BunB conferences:
(Thanks to Ariane Koek for the reference)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Recent scholarship on art/science

Here are some interesting recent publications at the art/sci interface:

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, edited by Ursula K. Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann, is a collection of 45 essays, many of which were first drafted for the UCLA Sawyer Seminar on the Environmental Humanities in 2014-2015. It will be published in late 2016 or early 2017; see the table of contents below for a sneak peak. The volume brings together work by an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars and writers who address the Anthropocene, domestication, posthumanism, multispecies communities, narratives of decline and resilience, environmental history and memory, literature and ecocriticism, and environmental media, technologies, and art. The result is an important reflection on and assessment of the environmental humanities now.

More Info: Forthcoming in late 2016 or early 2017

Combining Art and Science for Conservation Outreach of Ectothermic Vertebrates (Amphibians and Fishes), Brandon Ballengee & Prosanta Chakrabarty


Although artists and biologists tend to stay confined to their professional boundaries, and their discourses largely remain inaccessible to larger audiences, evidence is presented here for a combined approach, which may affectively disseminate knowledge about amphibians and fishes to non-specialists through novel art-science participatory research and exhibitions. In this study evidence is presented that suggests combining art with biology may successfully increase public understanding of the international decline of amphibian and fish populations, as members of the public achieved increased understanding of ectothermic vertebrate conservation issues through direct participation (citizen science) in primary scientific studies. Likewise, art inspired from these research experiences was exhibited internationally with the intention of furthering a conservation message and results from questionnaires suggests visitors gained an increased awareness of the threats many species of amphibians and fishes currently face. Historically many scientists utilized varied creative art forms to disseminate scientific insights to a larger populace of non-specialists, such strategies as visually provocative artworks may still be effective to captivate contemporary audiences. As today's environmental issues are often complex and large-scale, finding effective strategies that encourage public awareness and stewardship maybe paramount for long-term conservation of species and ecosystems.

Constructing reality - The Museum of Jurassic Technology
Mapping the Musesphere - Cultures of Exhibition and Technologies of Display MPhil/PhD, Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2006, Chapter 5 - Displaying Mimesis: Fakes, Facsimiles and Fabrications

While we might be confident in our faith in our fakes, we have a different kind of faith in museums. Through their traditions of integrity and open-door policy, and as inscribed in legislation, museums assure their public of their authority to collect, conserve and exhibit the cultural heritage on behalf of their public... Confounding the very notion of the integrity of the museum to tell the truth, though, the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, California tells another story. Promoted as an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic, their narratives do not fall into any known museum categories.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Realising Potentials: Arts-based sustainability science

Realising Potentials: Arts-based sustainability science is a two-day workshop conceived as an experiential site for exploration and dialogue around arts-based sustainability science.

Two main motivations guide the workshop:
  1. To open up an experiential space where artists and scientists can share, connect and expand different experiences, projects and discussions in the field of arts-based sustainability research. A space to experience others’ approaches, to play, to be surprised… A space to explore together, pushing our boundaries, acting/thinking out of the box.
  2. To catalyse a network of Arts-based Sustainability Science as a community of learning, practice and mutual support. A network expanding in time the sharing of the workshop and connecting different actors working in the field, so as to allow us to critically approach and expand different practices, collaborate together, and face different challenges as they emerge.
When and where?

The workshop will be held in Barcelona (Spain), in November 3rd-4th, 2016 at the Institute of Catalan Studies (Institut d’Estudis Catalans, IEC).


During the workshop, participants will engage in different experiential laboratories and discussions to share, collectively explore and critically inquire different experiences of arts-science hybridation -both from artists and researchers, methodological boundaries and challenges as sustainability researchers and practitioners, and the potentials of bringing together the arts and the aesthetics and sustainability science.


This workshop is coordinated by a group of sustainability scientists and practitioners who have experimented with a variety of arts-based approaches and it is open to both artists and researchers interested in this intersection.

Participants are invited to share art and research projects directly developed within collaborations among artists and scientists, dealing with one of the thematic areas in question. Understanding the four pillars of sustainability – environmental, social, cultural and economic - proposals should embed the interactions between social and natural sciences and the arts as insightful ways to generate new understandings and relationships, make people aware of the importance of a balanced relationship between human beings and the environment, in its diverse levels, and trying to encourage people to realize potentials as agents of social-ecological transformations.

More details.

Friday, June 17, 2016

CFP: Ecology and Society

From Susan Jacobson:
Editors-in-Chief Carl Folke and Lance Gunderson are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 20, Issue 4 of Ecology and Society
The Reconciling Art and Science for Sustainability special feature edited by Frances Westley, Marten Scheffer, and Carl Folke will remain open to submissions until July 2016. This feature invites papers on the topic of how art and science may be integrated for transformative understanding, increased motivation and new insights.
"Why is science  perceived as entirely different from art? Both attempt to capture the essence of the world around us in novel and eye-opening ways. Still, the approaches are strikingly complementary. This suggests the potential for synergy. What can we learn from each other when it comes to the process of creative inquiry? Could we cooperate to fathom the unknown unknowns, finding important new questions that we had never thought of? This special feature invites papers on the topic of how art and science may be integrated for transformative understanding, increased motivation and new insights into how to build social ecological resilience."

Note: page charges may apply.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Report on University Artist-in-Residence Programs

Stephen Tonsor at the Carnegie Natural History Museum directed us to this 2013 document produced by The Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University.

It's a set of recommendations for artist in residence programs at universities, based on a survey of 14 universities, and paying special attention to the IP issues. The recommendations could also be very helpful to FSML art programs, as well.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Confluence Projects, Todd Gilens

Artist Todd Gilens works with Sagehen Creek Field Station outside of Truckee, CA and Reno, NV, and the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL) near Mammoth Lakes, CA. His work there includes:
"...literature reviews, interviews and field work with researchers to understand the language, methods and motivations of stream science, as well as how streams are responding to climate changes."
Gilens has been working in the field and lab with invertebrate biologists David Herbst, Bruce Medhurst and Ian Bell, "considering how to bring aspects of their work to the average urban citizen".

A recent post from the artist's project newsletter illuminates some of the work emerging from that relationship.

From Gilen's crowd-funding website:
In my artworks, I borrow lecture halls, public transit vehicles, nursery propagation houses and other existing structures, adding images that make their meanings more legible. This new project emerged from visits to ecological field stations, where I compared my methods to those of field scientists’ and considered how both could inform our understanding of critical urban systems.  
“Confluence” will use the tops of urban curbs as a space to communicate with pedestrians about flowing water, stream science and the urbanization of landscapes. Using script fonts derived from local historical people’s handwriting, texts will be cut from bright yellow reflective traffic-marking tape and laid down along a mile of curbs, zigzagging from block to block on routes that follow the street grid overlay of former stream channels.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Should art respond to science?

There's an interesting discussion happening at YASMIN. Below is the original post and some of the more compelling comments:



Here is a very very negative review of Ryoji's Ikeda's art installation resulting from his cern residency

Should art respond to science? On this evidence, the answer is simple: no way
Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda's installation Supersymmetry is inspired by his residency at Cern - but signifies little more than that physics is weird. Isn't it time we stopped expecting artists to understand the complexities of science?

this is very much along the lines of my colleague Jean Marc Levy-Lebond's book 'Science is not art' where he attacks much of the mystification of art science practice

the review ends with:

Art <> and science, we feel, should have something to say to each other. But perhaps they speak different languages after all. I don't speak the language of science too well, either, but I do know one thing: it is concerned with the wonder of nature. There is a depressing lack of wonder in this technically sophisticated but intellectually and emotionally empty art.

would be interested in Yasminer reactions: has anyone seen the work ?

roger malina

Yasmin_discussions mailing list

Yasmin URL:


Dear Roger & Fellow Yasminers,

One of the crucial differences between art and science is that art represents and expresses the views of the artist. Art also involves a viewer or receiver. As Duchamp used to say, the viewer completes the work of art. But this isn’t merely Duchamp’s opinion: this is a fundamental proposition of symbolic interactionism as a method in the social sciences, and this is the core understanding of hermeneutics. For a deeper discussion of these issues, I have posted Herbert Blumer’s concise, elegant discussion of the methodological perspective of symbolic interaction in the teaching documents section of my Academia page at URL:

The clarity and precision of the natural sciences arises from the fact that the equations and propositions of natural science reflect and represent a world that should be the same to all viewers. While there are often differences of opinion about the truth, correctness, or value of what any one scientist or research team may represent about the physical world, there are also reasonably common standards that permit us to reach a common view over time.

One of Albert Einstein’s great papers of 1905 was his paper on Brownian motion. He published this at a time when no one was yet able to physically see an atom. Many scientists doubted the physical reality of atomic theory — and this included a great many scientists who accepted the hypothetical use of atomic theory for heuristic or didactic purposes while doubting the physical reality of atomism.

Einstein’s paper, “On the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in Liquids at Rest Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat”
examined several well-known physical and chemical facts, drawing together well established evidence to demonstrate the physical reality of atoms. As a result, many scientists who had been skeptical about the reality of atoms became convinced that atoms were, in fact, real. You can read the paper (in Satchel 1998: 71-98) for yourself on my Academia page at URL:

The key issue between these two kinds of discussions is the difference between the ways in which we can understand human beings, how they think, how they behave, and what their behaviour means — including those forms of human behaviour that include speech acts, and the artefacts of behaviour in the form of written texts and works of art.

Not only do human actions change over time, but the meanings of human actions change over time. What’s more, the understanding of human actions, human artefacts, and their meaning undergo translation by everyone who hears, sees, or participates in any action.

An atom of carbon will be the same as any other atom of carbon in the universe. Gravitation is the same force wherever we can look and wherever we can measure it. Certain predictable factors account for measurable differences — different isotopes of any element, differences in the strength of gravity on the surface of a large planet as against the force of gravity in space outside the pantry atmosphere.

In contrast, my idea of a good beer may differ to the ideas of those five people at the table next to me. I’ll order a bottle of India Pale Ale from the case and not the refrigerator while the next table has five frosty glasses of house lager on tap. Someone may enjoy Aaron Copland’s film scores while someone else might prefer Danny Elfman’s work, and yet another person might enjoy them equally. One viewer may love Ryoji Ikeda’s work and another may not. I am puzzled about the multimillion dollar sums that Jeff Koons’s work take at auction when someone can buy a beautiful print by Dieter Roth or a painting by Dick Higgins for a 5-figure sum.

It is for this reason that I read Jonathan Jones’s review of Ryoji Ikeda’s Supersymmetry installation without too much feeling either way. The artist responded to scientific ideas, but Ikeda’s installation is art and not science. It is very much the same thing as a musician composing works to reflect a sense of what early astronomers called “the music of the spheres.” Jones’s review tells me what Jones thinks — it doesn’t tell me what I think.

I haven’t seen the installation for myself, so I have no idea about it from first-hand experience. I did read the review, but the review doesn’t seem any more harsh than other kinds of reviews. If you want to read some truly withering criticism, take a look at Nicolas Slonimsky’s Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven's Time. I suppose that a similar collection may exist for visual art, but I haven’t seen it. There are two interesting books of rejection letter from publishers and others, however. One is Bill Shapiro’s Other People's Rejection Letters: Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You'll Be Glad You Didn't Receive. The other is Rotten Rejections: The Letters That Publishers Wish They'd Never Sent by Andre Bernard.

Duchamp used to say “posterity will be the judge.” We’ll eventually find out whether Ikeda’s work or Jones’s opinion prevails.



Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | 设计 She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | URL:

Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| University Distinguished Professor | Centre for Design Innovation | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia


Dear Roger,

A very interesting set of questions to arise at this point in time of intense mutual admiration between art and science and lack of responsible criticism in the arts and as science falls prey to conservative doubting, at least in States, and what I would argue is an over determination from technology sectors in education.

Perhaps it's not so much that artists should "understand" or take a deeply creative interest in mimicking science in their practices, but that both can learn different sets of questions and directions for research from each other and that deep critique both positive and negative is needed in both fields. We have enough problems to solve on this planet!

I had a chat with Erik Davis after a presentation he did about psychedelia in which he screened early CIA scientific experiments with LSD - controlled in a white office, with clock, with men in ties. If this is "objectivity" about the type of mystical experience possible on psilocybin then scientists have missed something crucial about aesthetics and sensual pleasure in affecting mind-alteration. He also talked about a recent study done at Johns Hopkins where it was determined that there was some kind of universally-had mystical experience. Presumably this more recent study used control environments more conducive to tripping than the CIA did in the sixties.

My point being that Science could gain important insights into how it is posing questions and proving its ideas from artists and artists would do well not to treat their own practices as if Art were for producing results that need to be proved--what has seemed a creeping concern in both criticism and practice and a peculiar (funding driven?) demand on artists in the last decade.

Molly Hankwitz, PhD
Independent scholar, curator, editor
Bivoulab "scientist"


Gaston Bachelard makes the point that "bad science can produce good art."
His books reveal how what was once taken to be scientific fact can become a
poetics that retains a psychological truth even when it can no longer claim
any scientific legitimacy. Ordinary language still carries along the
imagery of how we used to imagine the word--and ideas we no longer accept
as scientific may still condition our experience of the world.

I have only seen Ikeda's work in online videos, so it is particularly
difficult to know how to react to it. I do use other works of his in class
as examples both of simplicity of means and large scale immersive
environments. I read the review some time ago, and found it irritating--the
sort of "let's be sure you know my opinion" writing that for me is the
opposite of what I imagine good art criticism should be. Rather that
offering readers analysis that would allow the reader to form her own
understanding Ikeda's work, the critic decides what is good and what is
bad. But that's the pattern of most newspaper criticism for you.

On the other hand, I think that there is a point to be made about artists
learning the language of science in ways that go beyond the facile.
Complexity and chaos theory have been particularly misconstrued--consider
the innumerable times "the butterfly effect" is dropped into conversation.
There is a tendency of artists to skim the surface, pluck a few metaphors,
and consider that their work is done.


-- Paul


Dear Ken and Fellow Yasminers

Of course the letters that publishers wish they had never sent is a good way to view Jones' review.

I've been reading Susan Sontag's essay on Camp and that's the sort of writing that we are looking for - sensitive and evocative responses to the sorts of work that we are interested in and involved with. Writing that draws out the sensibilities of the work and provides us with a frame of reference for understanding.

But remember that Jones' review might have prompted more people to visit the installation, more people to have arguments about the relationship between art and science and more people to appreciate Ikeda's art. Sometimes you have to slag something off to get people to pay attention to it.

But the world is not only the Turner Prize, any news is good news, no such things as bad publicity.

We actually need good critical writing to explore what the work means to the audience (bearing in mind that as Ken so rightly highlights there is no direct connection between the artist's intention and the audiences' reception of the work). The critic is the audiences' voice, the way the artist hears back. I'm not meaning to simplify the critic or to remove the power relations, the connection between critic and collector, etc. But we know we need high quality criticism and we know that we need it more than ever now.

For what its worth my cues for writing good criticism are Helen Molesworth, Susan Sontag and Grant Kester.



For those interested in some further discussion of this article by
Jones, you can see a conversation in e-flux from April here:

David Harris
UCSC Digital Arts and New Media