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ARTIST'S CORNER Interview: Art Science Factory


Art Science Factory

Author: Stick Men Creation
Published: November 2011

SVG Magazine has a strong interest in collaboration between the scientific and artistic communities. The following interview, for an article entitled “Art with Science: A New Wave” was conducted by Stick Men Creation© [1], an online community of artists, with the Art Science Factory [2], a collaborative focused on the creative exchange between artists, scientists and citizens. Both are based in France.

STICK MEN CREATION: What are the basic intentions of the ArtScienceFactory?

ART SCIENCE FACTORY: Artsciencefactory is the name of a two sides collaborative project, meant to organize interaction and exchanges between scientists, artists and citizens. One side of the project is the website and the other one is dedicated to “field” collective projects, in cities and countryside, mostly related to the two territories, Plateau de Saclay (homeland of most French scientific major institutions) and Sarajevo.

SMC: What was your inspiration for creating such a group?

ASF: A need for new types of exchanges to explore what science and art have in common, and the certainty that it needed both this interactivity between very different contributors and this articulation between digital opportunities and ground based action.

SMC: Science is a broad term. How would you describe it and what are the ways your company focuses on it?

ASF: Since the birth of artsciencefactory was clearly related to the territory and institutions of the Saclay area, we are naturally related to researchers involved mostly in physics, astrophysics, nuclear theoretical research, biology, particle physics, genetics, scientific imagery… broadly said, high tech research in “hard sciences”. But we are not only limited to them, and welcome researchers in social sciences as well.

SMC: Do you see art and science as a combination of two separate elements or a single entity (art being necessary for science and vice versa)?

ASF: Clearly as two separate bodies, with different agendas and different procedures. It’s most necessary not to create confusion if we wish to make a fruitful dialogue between these elements.

SMC: How does art influence science?

ASF: Broadly said, art builds shapes. These shapes are inevitably used by science, though most of the time unconsciously. To give an example, medical imagery needs to establish patterns in terms of color, design, etc, which come from our visual culture. Art is likely to help both do this and criticize it. On another level, art keeps reminding scientists that a definite answer is never found, that in any answer lies a new question.

SMC: What “new breed” of individuals do you expect to create when getting artists and scientists together?

ASF: Nothing other than an opportunity for everyone, for every citizen (provided that scientists and artists are  also citizens) to understand both art and science better, and through their dialogues, interactions and oppositions, to reach a better understanding of the world they live in, and if possible be less scared by it.

SMC: When you say people can “remix” each others’ art what does that bring to the website? (On the website community, members get the chance to "change" one another's art. The Art Science Factory calls that remixing.)

ASF: It brings a certain understanding of the “making” of things, it shows how an initial proposition can be reshaped by others and reach new achievements, including to the author of the original work, it physically translates the fundamental notion that works of art are to be appropriated by each one, not in the sense of destroying it (the original work remains intact), nor becoming its owner (everyone still has the same access), but making something of it for oneself. And that this act can be valuable for others.

SMC: Can you explain what the collaboration between co-workers — both artists and scientists — is like?

ASF: There are no general answers to that question, every specific work requires a specific kind of collaboration.

SMC: If there are any, what are the limits to art and science?

ASF: They have no limits. The tricky thing is that the way they are unlimited is not the same.

SMC: Do you have any competitors?

ASF: I don't see it this way. Many people work with science and art, we already exchange a lot and are likely to do it more, especially on an international level.

SMC: If so, how does your company differentiate from them?

ASF: Each is different, and there are hundreds, so it’s difficult to give a general answer. What is specific with artsciencefactory is both the principle of exchange between online and grounded activities, and the relation with the Saclay area scientific organizations, represented by S[cube] and with the artists related to Centre André Malraux in Sarajevo.

SMC: Do you plan on going global?

ASF: We sure do. It’s only a budget issue.