Where do art and science meet?

BioArt, SciArt, Digital Art,
Arts and Sciences

At first glance, science and art appear to be two separate disciplines that do not have much in common. In the past, they were and are now becoming more interlinked. Leonardo da Vinci was famous for his artistic as well as his scientific work and at that time he was a universal scholar. The word art also used to refer to everything that arises from a creative process and thus also includes today's sciences. Since Romanticism, the concept of »fine arts« has been established to describe the works in literature, music and visual arts and to distinguish them from the sciences. With the increasing specialization and knowledge in science, technology and art, the connections became increasingly lose. In 1959, in view of the growing specialization and differentiation of the so-called exact sciences and the development of his own methods in the humanities and cultural sciences, the author and physicist C. P. Snow – quite disillusioned – finally spoke of the »two cultures« that separate an entire »ocean«. 

But in the last 20 years, these disciplines have been converging again: In »artistic research«, for example, artists focus on a methodological research process similar to that of the sciences. And in the natural sciences, in turn, there is a growing awareness of the fact that scientific results can also be the subject of social discourses and artistic interpretations. Scientists open themselves up to the artists' questions – because they themselves can also benefit from this exchange.

installation "sensory neural network" and performance "brain writes sounds

Artists are working intensively on issues related to the interaction between technology and society. The relationship between human and machine, between human and the environment or between human and his own body is currently being explored anew: in BioArt, the biological experiment meets aesthetics and social questions about what we want to produce. Digital artists are inspired by the findings of computer science and the natural sciences, both in their forms of representation and in their themes such as dealing with media, data protection and man/machine boundaries.

At this intersection, we design events – our »Experiments« – that bring art and technosciences into productive tension in order to discuss socially and ethically relevant topics of research with a broad audience. Information- and knowledge-based societies rightly expect scientific institutions to make research results accessible to different stakeholders and to discuss them publicly. We want to strengthen this bidirectional transfer of knowledge. For this reason, our initiative pursues a special approach to the mediation of science and ethical reflection: we develop participatory formats in close cooperation with artists, because we assume that art can open up a space for intensive, mutually inspiring, critical and curious interactions between scientists and society. We see our events and projects as a creative playground and common platform for scientists, artists and the public with an explicitly experimental character. This facilitates open discussions between scientists and the public on the ethical and social aspects of current research.


For Further Reading:


Henk Borgdorf summarizes the debate on artistic research.

The European Digital Art and Science Network has brought together several voices on the subject of media art and natural science in this medium. 

This television report presented some well-known BioArt artists.

There are a number of institutions around the world that, like us, operate at the interface between science and art, some of which we would like to list here:

A science center and part of Trinity College, Dublin with international spin-offs.

A film festival on the topic of BioArt

This Science Center in New York also publishes the SciArt Magazine.

The Futurelab at Ars Electronica develops interfaces to the natural sciences and art.

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