9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Arts and Sciences Building II, C6.07

Reflections on Art and Science Collaborations

Institutions are increasingly encouraging multi-disciplinary collaborations/exchanges between artists, scientists, and their publics as a means of fostering equitable social change. Such collaborations are hailed as positive and desirable but much of the discussion is anecdotal and undermined by a lack of ethnographic research and/or critical reflexive examinations of the wide variety of concrete art worlds and scientific institutions

This paper will focus on a recent collaboration between artists, legal experts and scientists that resulted in an art exhibit entilted "Imagining Science: Art, Science, and Social Change" that took place at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, from November 15, 2008 to February 1, 2009. It will raise some pertinent questions that might allow a critical examination of such collaborations, such as: who benefits from these collaborations; what sort of knowledge is produced; how boundaries determined and /or crossed; how do artists and scientists understand their publics; how are the aesthetics of art negotiated with the ethics of science; how does each understand their "public" and what is its "good"? These are but a few of questions connected with the topic of art and science collaborations that social scientists are compelled to ask before addressing even the possibility of collaboration between art and science, let alone its desirability as a vehicle for social change.