Experiment, Research, Art

JRC screenshotJournal for Research Cultures
Experiment, Research, Art
Translated transcript of the Jahreskonferenz der Dramaturgischen Gesellschaft
by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger


“What the art historian has to say about the artist should also be applied – cum grano salis – to the scientist, who is searching for the “novel”. The scientist, who researches, “works on in the dark, guided only by the tunnels and the shafts of earlier work, following the vain and hoping for a bonanza”. (Kubler 1982) The historian of science, Thomas Kuhn,   once described it like this: the research process is “a process driven from behind” (Kuhn 1992) and not definable through anticipations, through a Telos – a goal – which is known beforehand and which is directly pursuable. In other words, the sciences are not moving towards something, rather they are moving away from something.”

“I wanted to direct your attention onto the space where knowledge is being created, no matter if epistemically or aesthetically connotated, in contrast to its social negotiation, its public declaration and its local and global distribution. Here one can, I think, look for structural correspondences between the sciences and the arts. I, however, do not belong to those who measure various cultural practices by the same yardstick, but I’m convinced that in an attentive scrutiny of the forms in which the respective materials are dealt with productively, that a study of the material convolutions and involvements of scientists and artists can lead to fundamental similarities in relation to the creation of artistic effects and the creation of knowledge effects. Both scientist and artist go after the unanticipatable and both know they can’t just miraculously pull it out of their heads. This notwithstanding they don’t have to fall into one. The fact that the sciences and the arts have historically created at least meta-stable, separated areas has to be acknowledged, even if this separation hasn’t existed at all times and all places, and even if it doesn’t have to stay this way forever. It could however very well be that this separation is a secondary effect, a collateral damage so to speak, of the respective stabilisation on the level of social negotiation, communication and distribution, and less indebted to the conditions of creating epistemic and artistic values. What we can do is to map out a discursive territory where it is possible that scientists and artists can mutually look at their hands, paying less attention to what they say but much more on what they do when they practice their craft.”

Simulacra and Simulation

simulation-and-simulacraSimulacra and Simulation, 1994
Jean Baudrillard

“In order for ethnology to live, its objects must dye; by dying, the object takes its revenge for being “discovered” and with its death defies the science that wants to grasp it.

Doesn’t all science live on this paradoxical slope to which it is doomed by the evanescence of its objects in its very apprehension, and by the pitiless reversal that the dead objects excerts on it? Like Orpheus, it always turns around too soon, and, like Eurydice, its object fall back into Hades.

It is against this hell of the paradox that the ethnologists wished to protect themselves by cordoning off the Tasaday with virgin forest. No one can touch them anymore: as in a mine the vein is closed down. Science loses precious capital there, but the object will be safe, lost to science, but intact in its “virginity”. It is not a question of sacrifice (science never sacrifices itself, it is always murderous), but of the simulated sacrifice of its object in order to save its reality principle.”

Understanding Media

mcluhanUnderstanding Media, 1969
Marshall McLuhan

“The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics. If the operations are needed, the inevitability if effecting the whole system during the operation has to be considered. For in operating on society with a new technology, it is not the incised area that is most effected. The area of impact and incision is numb. It is the entire system that is changed. The effect of radio is visual, the effect of the photo is auditory. Each new impact shifts the ratios among all the senses. What we seek today is either a means of     controlling these shifts in the sense-ratios of the psychic and social outlook, or a means of avoiding them altogether. To have a disease without its symptoms is to be immune. No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.”


Towards the Third Culture

Towards The Third CultureTowards the Third Culture
The Co-Existence of Art, Science and Technology
Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, 2011

Science Labs as Artist Studios
Essay by Victoria Vesna

“Scientific research is frequently funded by large corporate interests and the data we, the public, receive is not as pure as we may have thought in the past. there is much romanticism associated with the “Leonardo” idea of a new age of Renaissance, when artist and scientist will work together happily and be practically indistinguishable. But if one simply maps any academic context in basic financial terms, ones sees that these are radically different worlds occupying very different realms,. In addition to huge funding differences differences, they are almost always located on opposite sides of campuses making it a bit more difficult for a natural interaction to occur.

Many scientists are attracted to the idea of working with an artist to create an aesthetically pleasing  visualisation of their work, but rarely even consider actually working together on the research. A very complex interplay between voicing uneasy questions about funding, ethics and safety, and developing work which actually helps the scientist move research forward. In this way respect it is critically for artists to occupy the academic context that allows them immediate contact at a minimum and residency in the lab as a possibility.”

Link to the downloadable version of the book.

Cybernetic Serendipity

Cybernetic SerendipityCybernetic Serendipity
The computer and the Arts, 1969
Edited by Jasia Reichardt

“Cybernetic serendipity is an international exhibition exploring and demonstrating some of the relationships between technology and creativity…

Cybernetic serendipity deals with possibilities rather than achievements, and in this sense it is prematurley optimistic. There are no heroic claims to be made because computers have so far neither revolutionised music nor art, nor poetry, in the same way that they have revolutionised science.

There are two main points which make this exhibition and this catalogue unusual in the contexts in which are exhibitions and catalogues are normally seen. The first is that no visitor to the exhibition, unless he reads all the notes relating to all the works, will know whether he is looking at something made by an artist, engineer, mathematician, or architect. Nor is it particularly important to know the background of the makers of the various robots, machines and graphics, it will not alter their impact, although it might make us see them differently.

The other point is more significant.

New media such as plastics or new systems such as visual music notation and the parameters of concrete poetry, inevitably alter the shape of art, the characteristics of music, and the concrete poetry. New possibilities extend the range of expression of those creative people whom we identify as painters, film makers, composers and poets, It is very rare however, that new media and new systems should bring in their wake new people to become involved in creative activity, be it composing music, drawing, constructing or writing.”