|The intersection of art and science, or art and engineering, or art and technology, is a common trope since the 1960s when collectives such as “E.A.T.” were formed to explore and promote collaborations with the then-new technologies. But this “intersection of art and technology” is often bandied about in somewhat unclear terms about what it may mean and what its results can be. Art and technology don’t so much intersect as they almost overlap, at least in the sense that we cannot even fathom art without technology. To be realised, art demands a medium and hence, technology. Art cannot be without technology; art is unthinkable without technology. We can frequently witness two types of dynamics in art and technology collaborations. The first is when art works as a function of technology, towards technology, becoming somewhat goal-driven in its aim. This is where we can find commissions with motivations squarely grounded in technology and science. The second is where we find technology and science providing resources to art, such as new materials, tools, methods, etc., that artists use in their work. Occasionally, these can even be developed at the artists’ demand, but they can also result from independent research subsequently put at the artists’ disposal. Neither of these constitute modes of collaboration in which both parties are led to outputs resulting in effective contributions to both fields and where real synergies are developed or where the arrow points both ways. Is this type of synergy possible? Can art and technology cooperate? What can art bring to technology, engineering, and science? Can it produce effective contributions to these fields? i2ADS’s participation in the 2SMART project was steered towards two closely related, albeit quite different, goals. One of these was focused on communication design and communicating science by exploring data visualisation and other media design techniques for the sciences. The communication processes of scientific and engineering teams — those in the 2SMART project, but also in a broader sample of the Portuguese science and technology ecosystem — were studied with the goal of understanding their most frequent needs and of devising design patterns that could be used as tools for researchers to deal with design decisions when designers may not be available. This led to direct contributions to scientists’ and engineers’ design literacy and indirect contributions to a broader scientific literacy. Furthermore, this effort also allowed us to map other needs and opened avenues for future research within i2ADS and the Faculty of Fine Arts. Another goal was focused on art. However, rather than promoting collaborations with science and technology, it aimed to foster creation in a context of science, technologies, and engineering, bringing artists to the laboratories for creative residences for extended periods of time. André Rangel in NANO4MED lab, Carolina Grilo Santos in the Processes Products and Energy group, and Catarina Braga in the Environmental Sciences and Technologies group, all labs of LEPABE, developed processes of artistic research in the labs, exploring and discovering its spaces, the people that work in them, and the technologies, materials and processes they work with. At the start of each of these residences, the artists didn’t have constraints beyond a maximum duration for the residence and the expectation of showcasing the outcomes of their work in an individual show at the Library of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto. The residences resulted in very diverse works — in media, concepts, approaches, and in the focus developed by each artist during the residence — leading to the different ways that the works resonate with the contexts where they were developed. However, we may also discover convergent traits in the works, perhaps because of their shared history or the forces that shaped them. With this cycle of residences, we tried to bring the epistemological processes of art to sciences and engineering, to look at STEM processes through the perspective of art, something which may lead to the development of new critical perspectives and to a reframing and reorganisation process that can only be developed through art. In this final show, which also marks the project’s conclusion, the three works are brought together and confronted in the Gallery of the Museum of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, provoking further dialogue between the works and the technologies that brought them to be.
|i2ADS - Research Institute in Art, Design and Society