Two streams, one bridge: A cultural excursion into SciArt land

Two streams, one bridge: A cultural excursion into SciArt land

Author: Kathryn Eleanor O’Hara – Carleton university, Canada


  • Kathryn O’Hara – adjunct research professor, School of Journalism and Communication. Carleton University, Canada

A search for a unique SciArt aesthetic is timely and transformative. What are we looking at ? Is is simply Art? Is it a tad ArtSci-Fartsy? Is it Outsider Art? Or is the viewing value in its science communication outreach ? Who decides? And how? Particularly in this century, SciArt has grown, popularized by the visual and connective appeal of online galleries and portfolios to fans. While it is true that science can rely more readily on visualizations thanks to the ease that computers turn pixels into pictures, the enthusiasm for a hybrid art form is evident in numerous social media devoted to image and commentary.

Given SciArt’s alleged start in Manhattan around 1966 when artists engaged with scientists in a project called ‘experiments in art and technology’ which spawned robotic art, digital art,media art and, more recently, data visualization art, we now have accessible art works that lean more on a scientific worldview. For example, the Canadian science communication blogging hub ‘Science Borealis’ defined SciArt as ‘any creative expression where the intent of the artist is to convey an understanding of the physical universe.’ If this art is then commandeered to communicate some science, does that function diminish the artistic value in any way or does this intent qualify as its singular aesthetic purpose? Is it art? I propose, in this lively project, through audio interviews to ask questions of this nature to artists and sci-artists, curators and critics.

The resulting short presentation (10 minutes) would be a visual tour with interspersed voice over on a series of relevant, curated art works. The audience would also be encouraged to play along as critics by spotting science minded art and through this exercise consider further defining a possible aesthetic for our consideration as science commmunicators and art appreciators.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Time