Alchemists of Art and Science

ghost_cell_2 Credit: Ghost Cell / Antoine Delacharlery
The huge current interest in forms of interdisciplinary collaboration shines what or many people is a long-overdue spotlight on the multifarious possibilities that can emerge from exchange and cooperation among, on one hand, art and creativity, and, on the other hand, science and technology. Moreover, an increasing number of observers are applauding the fact that, above all, there is finally widespread realization of a paradigm shift having occurred in a world that is’  now globalized not only geographically and economically but intellectually as well. Driven by correspondingly wide-ranging motivations, more and more artists are lighting out to explore these territories. They are in search of new sources of inspiration, and they also want their artistic work to make an impact beyond the confines of the art world. In going about this, they often pursue trails that were blazed long ago, and sometimes without knowing too much about that back story.
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What is striking is the greatly increased readiness on the part of both individual scientists and a growing number of institutions to make a commitment to these liaisons. Such prestigious research institutions as CERN—European Organization for Nuclear Research, the European Southern Observatory and the European Space Agency now host artist-in-residence programs under the aegis of the European Digital Art and Science Network subsidized by the EU. As a member of an extensive network of cultural institutions in Europe and other parts of the world, Ars Electronica will be displaying works created in conjunction with these artist-in-residence programs and also staging a series of exhibitions showcasing exciting, innovative projects at the nexus of art and science. New methods of fabrication and of 3-D printing, concepts for rapid prototyping, work in the field of 3-D animation, and artistic strategies for the visualization of scientific data—the exhibitions cover a broad range of approaches, many of which are still in the prototype stage. “The Alchemists of Art and Science,” the second installment in this series, spotlights speculative, futuristic visions that have emerged from the amalgamation of artistic and scientific approaches—for instance, wearables that measure cosmic radiation in their immediate surroundings; clothing grown out of fungi; a 3-D-printed lamp you can create at home with an app and a laser scanner, wearable devices designed to reduce your CO2 output; and concepts for interactive windshields.