A growing number of both scientists and artists is becoming deeply unhappy with the still dominant view that art and science are largely unrelated – a view that is reinforced on all sorts of levels (institutional, educational, social status, and so on). They argue not only that science and arts can benefit enormously from what ‘the other side’ has to offer, but many also question the very presumption that we are dealing with fundamentally different areas of interest. The ambition to (re)unite art and science has given birth to a large number of so-called art-science collaborations. These projects are often met with great enthusiasm. But what to make of them? What is the rationale behind art-science collaborations and how valuable are they really?
The ease with which art-science collaborations are sometimes presented as ‘urgent’ or ‘full of promise’ justifies a critical examination of both the assumptions underlying these projects and their success rates. How well are art-science collaborations motivated? To what extent are they driven by a gut feeling, a desire even, that something good must come from mixing arts with sciences? And what about the projects that have already taken place? Are we (already) in a position where we can draw conclusions as to when and how art-science collaborations can be made a success, if at all?
In this workshop we took a friendly, open-minded but critical position as we explored the more fundamental aspects of art-science collaborations. The aim of the workshop was no so much to realise a scientific breakthrough as it was to explore and define the conditions under which art-science collaborations can made a success, and thus, in a sense, laying the groundwork for scientific breakthroughs. We believe the workshop was a great success. Workshops participants were very keen to explore the ‘project management dimensions’ of art-science collaborations, a topic that is addressed rarely as scientists and artists tend to be focussed on the content of the project primarily. The results are also very valuable. By the end of the week, we had developed a firm understanding of how the most important aspects of collaboration (motives for collaboration, goals, collaboration models, collaboration performance indicators and institutional context) work together.
We tried the workshop to be as lively and interactive as possible. Very few key notes and lots of working in small groups. That worked really well for everyone. It ensured that everyone was actively involved. The Lorentz Center facilities are brilliant in this respect. It enables both plenary and break-out sessions, formal and informal talks, and so on. Support was also very good. The Lorentz Center staff really lets the workshop participants focus on the workshop itself.
The workshop organisers are now preparing a report in which we reflect on the workshop outcomes. The document is meant as a ‘survival guide’ for artists and scientists who intend to work on a joint project. This document should be published this year (2014).