Taney Roniger/ When we began this dialogue eleven days ago, one of my main objectives was to impose some sobriety on what James Elkins has memorably – now perhaps indelibly — called the drunken conversation between art and science. Establishing clarity and eradicating misunderstandings, I was convinced, was the only way sci-art could mature as a genre. How quickly I was disabused of this notion! Indeed, if there’s one thing that’s been made clear to me over the course of this symposium, it’s that working with only partial understandings can be wonderfully generative, and that by taking little stabs at sense from numerous different angles we can generate ideas and questions wholly unforeseen at the outset. Such has been my experience here, and I can honestly say I’ve learned not just more than I’d hoped for, but more about things quite other than I’d anticipated.
We’ve covered so much ground here from such a variety of different perspectives that a quick summary would do the material no justice. But one thing about which we all seem to agree is that art, like so many other fields, is in crisis, and that its reach toward other disciplines represents an earnest effort toward a renewed sense of purpose. Whether you’re a sci-art enthusiast or one of its skeptics, I think we can all find this move sympathetic and laudable. And whether sci-art grows as a genre or dissolves altogether, it seems fairly certain that art will look very different than it does now some decades out.
First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for all the rich insights, reflections, and speculations you’ve shared here. So many of you poured more time into this conference than I could have ever expected, and for that I’m deeply grateful. I’d also like to give a huge thanks to the wonderful staff at CUE – Corina Larkin, Shona Masarin-Hurst, and Eva Ellmore – for all the work they’ve done over the last six months to make this happen. Without them, we’d have been conferring in my barn upstate, and I can say with some confidence that this arrangement was far more comfortable. And finally, I want to thank Werner Sun and Daniel Hill, my partners in crime, without whose tireless support and keen insights this conference would have been much the poorer.
I look forward to seeing many of you on Friday!
(And I can’t help but add: Who ever thought we’d end up at religion?)