Bringing art and science together

Author: Nick Brown
Posted: 1 Jul 2016 | 10:58

This week I have been at the FEAT (Future Emerging Art and Technology) workshop in Vienna, which aims to promote collaboration between scientists and artists. As I am sure many people will be aware, the EU-funded Future and Emerging Technology (FET) programme consists of scientific projects looking to push the boundaries of research in specific fields.

The FEAT programme brings together people working on these projects with artists, in order to nurture collaboration and understand how these two fields can work together. Earlier in the year six leading artists (or artist teams) chose a specific FET project for them to work with and we were lucky enough that the FET HPC exascale projects were chosen by the artists Špela and Miha who work together and will undertake a residence embedded in these FET HPC projects. (More information about his collaboration here.)

The workshop in Vienna brought together the artists, scientists representing the FET projects, and philosophers to talk about current progress and explore ways in which science and art can collaborate. A number of topics were discussed, including the creative notions of poiesis, techne and episteme, and how these relate to science as well as art. I gave a short response from a science perspective about the main talk on this topic, and it was really very interesting (but also challenging) to think about what I do on a daily basis in relation to these concepts.

Working in HPC, the fields of art and philosophy are very separate to my usual work. Hence I was a little apprehensive beforehand that the differences in these fields would be insurmountable. However I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was everyone very easy to talk to and open for discussions about how their areas relate to others, but I also realised that there is a significant overlap between these areas and lots that we can learn from each other. One of the very obvious benefits from this collaboration is that of advertising and PR, but from talking to the artist I realised that there is the potential for something more significant here. The creativity and approach that the artists bring has the potential to help us challenge and improve the science that we do as part of these FET projects.

The FEAT project runs until 2017 and the outcome will be pieces of artwork, not only inspired by but also developed in close collaboration with the FET projects. The end result will be one or more exhibitions of these pieces to the wider public.

We are very much looking forward to working with Špela and Miha over the summer and will keep you updated about how this work goes.

Robot picture linked from the FEAT website and copyright Anna Dumitriu and Alex May, part of the "My Robot Companion" project with the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. More information can be found here: http://myrobotcompanion.tumblr.com/

Author

Nick Brown, EPCC