The Morning After

Gianluca Bianchino/ Session 1

A drunken conversation has often proven to be a good jump start to a great friendship since the vulnerable state of intoxication allows a level of truth and honesty to spill out of both parties (art and science). I’m certain we’ve all been in that exciting and yet naïve state of being (unless you don’t drink).  But in a drunken conversation there’s always a small window of opportunity for that truth and honesty to establish a lasting meaningful relationship before one of the parties gets carried away by the effects of escalating inebriation spoiling the credibility of their quarrel.  I would argue that the conversation between art and science has been drunk for too long now, certainly since the industrial revolution where the many failed attempts at collaboration started being recorded and probably further back in time, perhaps drunk since inception.  A good place to … Continue reading

Response from James Elkins

James Elkins/

Sorry I missed the event: it sounds like it was great. I can be online until Wed. AM, when I’m off to see the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, where you can imagine there won’t be a speck of science, except in the Renaissance galleries.
Regarding the notion of a “drunken conversation”:  I agree with Suzanne. The expression “drunken conversation” was meant to indicate an interesting conversation: one driven by desires, one that overflows the boundaries of propriety, one that may not get anywhere right away but flows on with force and conviction until it arrives in some unexpected place.
I think we may have space for discussion when it comes to “knowledge.” I am not convinced by most of the theorizations of “knowledge” used, or implicit, in practice-led PhD programs. I don’t think “knowledge” is something always to be desired, and when it’s applied to visual … Continue reading

On the Question of Audience

Taney Roniger/ I think it’s significant that many of the posts so far have taken on the issue of sci-art’s audience. This is so very important, and it’s one of the reasons I’m interested in the genre to begin with. Above all, I see the growing sci-art movement as an earnest and impassioned attempt on the part of art to achieve greater cultural authority in these urgent times.  And I agree with Stephen that if it’s to be taken seriously, sci-art needs to stop presenting itself as a mere novelty. The question that comes to my mind is: If our aim is to reach beyond the ivory towers of academia and the narrow confines of the art world proper, how can we expect a nuanced and meaningful reception when the vast majority of the public is ignorant of art? Daniel, you say:  “If art can potentially expand its audience through … Continue reading

Response from Eve Andree Laramee

Eve Laramee/ Regarding question 1:4 -“who is the intended audience,” Stephen Nowlin brings up an important challenge facing Sci-Art: the possibility of being both inspirational and subversive. To my mind, it is critical for us to ask if Sci-Art can activate change, and if so, within which demographics and cohorts? With the current political climate and an administration that is dismantling environmental protection laws, there is an urgency to resist the obfuscation of facts. How better to create that field of engagement than through science-art collaborations? I believe there a place for activism within a Sci-Art convergence.… Continue reading

Response to 1.1 from Suzanne Anker

Suzanne Anker/ To begin with, what’s wrong with a “drunken conversation”? While some drunken conversations perseverate and go on endlessly in the land of repetition, others invoke unconscious or otherwise non-linear concerns which can lead to innovative thoughts, processes and materials.  When examining the nature of research and dialogue I quote Jacques Monod in that evolution operates by chance and necessity.  If we liken language to a communication system, what is the relevance in which “drunken conversations” produce mutations of thought and its consequences? For Monod, ”mutations constitute the only possible source of modifications in a genetic text……chance alone is the source of every innovation.”

Hence a “drunken conversation” may, in fact, be a method of generating knowledge.  Additionally, a brief scan of Gregory Bateson’s metalogue can also unfold hidden aspects in dialogue. In Steps to An Ecology of Mind, Bateson introduces the concept of the metalogue: “A … Continue reading

Who’s the Audience?

Stephen Nowlin/ Thank you to the CUE Foundation and Taney Roniger for initiating this timely and important dialogue.

An initial thought: I think the title of the conference itself smartly points to the need for a deeper excavation of what Sci-Art is and what it means. “Strange Attractors” exposes the tendency, particularly in the popular media, to approach a convergence of science and art as a kind-of inspirational novelty — that is, as an implausible tale of romance, an affair noteworthy primarily because it seems to successfully pair what are stereotypically perceived to be polar opposite ends of a spectrum. As a result, the exposure of Sci-Art to the public through popular media remains largely superficial, more descriptive of its charm and novelty than analytical of its deeper meanings. While such may not be the case with academic journals and scholarly writing on the subject, it is the ability of … Continue reading

A few thoughts on 1.1 & 1.2

Daniel Hill/

Many of the group dialogues I have been involved in with artists and scientists have indeed wound up like a drunken conversation.  Often it seems both are using the same terminology but have different definitions.  Another issue seems to be a more than average knowledge or awareness of current issues in science on the part of the artist and a lack of general knowledge of contemporary art on the part of the scientist.  I think this is because in the potential sciart relationship, art needs science more than science needs art.


I see the most fundamental difference between art and science to be the objective nature of science and the subjective nature of art. Science is concerned with the world of the real and art is concerned largely with simulated realities. Science requires reproducible results and art depends on the inability to reproduce.


I think there … Continue reading

Session 1

Leonard Shapiro/

Thoughts on the Art and Science Worlds. Is the separation as great as we think?

Artists inhabit a domain, a world they call the ‘art world’. Scientists inhabit a world they call the ‘science world’. Each of these domains has a specific language associated with it (for good reason) and the people who occupy each domain use this language to communicate with each other. However, while a particular language serves an important communicative and descriptive function within each domain, these languages can unwittingly serve to alienate those who are not familiar with the other’s domain. It is generally perceived that scientists view artists with suspicion and vice versa; a myriad of art vs science jokes and jibes attest to this divergence and ‘othering’. Artists are viewed as ‘laid-back’, ‘weird’, ‘alternative’ while scientists are viewed as ‘hard-nosed’, ‘matter-of-fact’, ‘down to earth.

Even as some scientists and artists follow a Continue reading

Moderator’s Welcome

Taney Roniger/

As we open this forum to the public today, I’d like to welcome everyone to the online component of Strange Attractors: Art, Science, and the Question of Convergence. First, I want to extend my thanks to all our panelists for enthusiastically accepting our invitation to share their thoughts on art and science over the course of the next ten days. Thanks to this diverse group of accomplished artists, scientists, writers, and curators, the forthcoming dialogue promises to be dynamic and illuminating.

For those of you who missed our opening presentations at CUE last night, we’ll be posting links to both James Elkins’s lecture and the diagram our audience participated in creating with Matthew Ritchie. We hope you’ll take a look at those to get a sense of the ideas that sparked a lively and probing discussion at the end of the evening. (If it’s any indication of … Continue reading