June 4: pedagogy and education in art/science/technology

unlike the previous day, which featured a variety of fairly diverse projects and collaborations, many of the saturday and sunday’s  presentations and demonstrations seemed to focus  on educational concerns whose outcomes eventually contributed to both fields involved (mainly science and the arts) in unexpected ways.

For instance, the goal of Shannon Mc Mullen and Fabian Winkler, two professors of visual and performing art at Purdue University, was to find new ways for students from different disciplines to engage in collaborations with engineers, scientists and artists. the project “Images of Nature” is an ongoing study configured as a series of workshops and classes targeted to students form the entire university with the aim of creating artistic interventions to be exhibited in a gallery or in public spaces.

Mc Mullen and Winkler think that creating artifacts through interdisciplinary collaborations is the best way to form not only young artists but also scientists and to direct them towards respectful recognition and the convergence of different interests.
In this specific project, the general idea was to arise awareness about the intertwining of nature and culture. Through lab visits, connection with a number of faculty working in different labs across the university and the production of group projects comprising of students with different academic background, the participants (undergraduate and graduate students) were encouraged to not only learn and use scientific concepts and technologies, but also to investigate them critically.

Above:the making of Greenhouse, a project by the students participating to the “images of nature” workshop 

I am wondering if this could be a model of collaboration that could be exported not only across universities but also outside, to include independent scholars, small private start ups that work in the field of new media and environmental science or artists working closed to the local community. on the one hand, too often disciplinary differences and department policies prevent these crosspollinations. on the other hand, there seems to be a resistance by current universities to venture outside and discover that new partnerships could be established with local and small companies.