Scientific director of Symbiotica Stuart Bunt addressed some of the latter issues 9see previous article) in his presentation.
He described the relation between artists and scientists working at SymbioticA as a “productive friction” and, nonetheless, as a relation between equals.
however, the dynamics that make an environment like SymbioticA, affiliated with a scientific institution and with the university, are far more complex. The already, and sometimes difficult dialogue between different linguistic codes, research methods and the divergence in intentions of the scientist and the artist, are only a few of the layers the characterize the ongoing collaborations. In fact, one should also consider the ethics involved in the artists’ use of biological material as well as the continuous negotiation between SymbioticA, the scientific units within the university and the university at large.
On top of the above issues, there is the connection between scientific research and the needs for technological advancement (Bunt sees the former partially subjected to the latter), the pressures of commercial and industrial interests as well as the consequences deriving from producing artifacts which can be potentially coopted or instrumentalized by other parties (as spectacle, to disseminate false or incorrect ideas etc..).
Thus, for Bunt, as biology is becoming a creative science –also thanks to the role of technology entering this area– it is crucial that both the scientist and the artist don’t loose their critical edge.
Moreover, there are the issues connected with the very treatment of biological material itself. In fact, the treatment of the biological is still associated with a feeling of uneasiness, which is non-existent when one deals with mechanical material.
the phrase “God has left astrophysics but has yet to leave biophysics” is particularly true in this context.
Finally, once the art produced in this environment exits the lab, other risks incur. As this form of art is often considered a niche and cannot be exhibited in a regular gallery, it is very likely to be viewed first hand by a very restricted audience. the rest of the audience experiences it through documentation and press releases.
I asked Oron Catts to explain in his own words the complexity that characterizes the relation between technoscience and art. In fact, the general public often assumes that such relation is either binary or is perceived in overly simplified terms. how can the artist navigate this complexity?