STS and Artistic Research
Location 118
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 11:00
Sessions 7


  • Peter Peters (Maastricht University) email
  • Henk Borgdorff (Leiden University) email
  • Trevor Pinch (Cornell University) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This track explores STS research on the arts and Artistic Research. It covers studies of artistic practices; reflexive practitioners at the boundaries between the arts and science, technology, and medicine; arts-based research methods; and enhanced modes of publication.

Long Abstract

STS scholars have studied the arts in relation to questions about science and its history, e.g. exploring the role of artists in creating the visual apparatus used by scientists. Recent work in STS has focused on the backstage, practical and preparatory activities constituting works of art or people's engagement with these works. The interest in artistic practices can be linked to research agenda's in STS such as subjectivity and the senses, technology and materiality, boundary work, and embodied, situated, and enacted forms of cognition.

STS emphasizes the constitutive role of practices and things in the production of knowledge and technologies. This 'practice turn' is manifest in the field of Artistic research, positioned at the interface of art worlds and academic research. In artistic research, material practices and things - e.g. performances or artefacts - are in a methodological sense the vehicles through which knowledge and understanding can be gained. Epistemologically they embody the knowledge and understanding we gain. This type of research does not easily fit the conventional frameworks and values of actors and institutions in science and technology.

This track proposes a dialogue of STS research on the arts and Artistic research. It could include topics such as studies of artistic practices; reflexive practitioners at the boundaries between the arts and science, technology, and medicine; non-propositional forms of reasoning; unconventional (arts-based) research methods and enhanced modes of presentation and publication. Contributors are invited to use alternative (rich-media) formats for their presentations.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.


A thought experiment on the craft of artistic research

Author: Ruth Benschop (Zuyd University of Applied Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

How can we understand the craft of artistic research without resorting to dichotomous positions of autonomy vs. discipline, making or thinking? My thought experiment elaborates artistic research as an experimental ethnography in which appropriate forms of rigour emerge along the way.

Long Abstract

Artistic practice is both strongly associated with craft as well as defined in opposition to it. Particularly with the rise of artistic research with its emphasis on process, and the various ways in which the art world relates to the increasing dominance of our knowledge society, the craft of art often seems more and more irrelevant and anachronistic. Instead, debates about artistic research are steeped in a different opposition: that of the autonomy versus the necessary relevance of art. In my contribution, I use the common STS manoeuvre of sidestepping these foundational questions and focus instead on the practical craft of artistic research. How can we understand what artistic researchers do? And what kind of appropriate rules or local rigour emerge in the process? Building on the work of Stefan Hirschauer, Tim Ingold and Annemarie Mol, my thought experiment elaborates artistic research as experimental ethnography: A research practice in which the embarrassingly underdetermined artist/researcher again and again attunes and calibrates herself as a strict and sensitive research instrument. An instrument, moreover, aiming at immersion as well as intervention, at understanding as well as relevant and radical distortion. The notion of craft helps to find ways of thinking about the quality of such a practice without having to resort to dichotomous and jaded positions of artistic autonomy or methodological discipline, doing or knowing, making or thinking.

Alternative Historicities

Author: Michael Schwab  email

Short Abstract

Based on Rheinberger's 'experimental systems', the presentation proposes an alternative space for knowledge in the imaginary, which impacts on the historicity of epistemic things in artistic research.

Long Abstract

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (1997) highlights the historical dimension of experimental science. Epistemic things are unknown entities that become - as knowledge is gained - technical objects; their epistemicity is depended on the possibility of future knowledge. Furthermore, the new technical objects impact on the conditions of future experimentation contributing to historical epistemology an aspect that is immanent to the experimental systems themselves.

While the materiality of experimentation may be shared between scientific and artistic research, the dependence on a future that characterizes experimental science's historicity - today often leading to a demand for 'innovation' - is less strong in artistic research. This is particularly the case when artistic research is seen through the lens of contemporary art as resultant from a critique on modern art's historicity that has conventionally been discussed in terms of the avant-garde, art's own historic mode of creating a future.

The proposed presentation seeks to engage with Rheinberger's 'experimental systems' in such a way as to retain their material, graphematic basis while seeking a new space for artistic articulations build around notions of contemporary art. As a consequence, epistemic things' epistemicity will become less dependent on future representational knowledge opening up a space for the imaginary. The presentation will argue that the historicity of artistic research - and with it, its epistemicity - is dependent on progressive articulations in the imaginary. While with Peter Osborne (2013), those articulations may be described as fictional, they enable the kind of 'virtual witnessing' (1984) that Stephen Shapin sees as important to the history of experimental science.

Material Systems as Art Practice and Method

Author: Jon Pigott (Cardiff Metropolitan University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will report on an art practice based research project that takes the idea of ‘material systems' as both art practice and research method to explore electromechanical sound art.

Long Abstract

This paper will report on an art practice based research project that takes the idea of 'material systems¬' to explore electromechanical sound art. By focussing on intersections between the mid 1960s revival in kinetic art and concurrent developments in experimental music composition the paper seeks to identify a distinct approach to systems art that is presented through objects, materials and technologies in real time animation. This approach is in contrast to other more conceptual, software driven and ecological approaches to systems art that became the more readily represented mode of systems art practice into 1970s and beyond.

The idea of the material system is extended through the paper to describe the method of the project. This is achieved through making connections to John Law's proposition of a 'method assemblage' (Law 2004) as something with the capacity to embrace a breadth of materials, technologies and ideas in a collage-like ad hoc contingency (Law 2004: 41). Also, the practical elements of the project and further examples are shown to reflect Law's concern that in purely textural and graphical research findings the 'materiality of the process gets deleted' (Law 2004: 20).

This paper presents both artwork and research method as material systems, enacted through a creative research process, where an 'incomplete knowledge of the system […] is an essential feature' (Eco1959: 171).

Bibliographic refs do not fit in word count limit.

Reasoning through Art

Author: Henk Borgdorff (Leiden University)  email

Short Abstract

Artistic research operates with a specific understanding of discursivity. It highlights the methodological relevance of things and practices, and promotes enhanced forms of peer review publication. It is time to associate these aspects of artistic research to research in other areas.

Long Abstract

Artists in their research often make use of insights, methods and techniques, which stem from social science, humanities or technological research, but it is not clear what artistic research itself has to offer to academia. In my contribution I will bring up a positive understanding of research in and through the arts, touching upon its epistemology and methodology, and addressing the form and relevance of its outcomes. I will point to four related issues that are pertinent to research in and through art: an advanced understanding of discursivity, of reasoning; the methodological relevance of material practices and things; innovative ways of publishing art in academia; and advanced forms of peer review. This will be illustrated by the workings of the Journal for Artistic Research and its associated Research Catalogue. Besides, it is key to the advancement of the artistic research field that we not only advertise and export our epistemological and methodological distinctiveness, but that we also join forces with others in our attempt to re-think academia.

What is an instrument? Artistic Research and Natural Science

Author: Esa Kirkkopelto (University of the Arts Helsinki)  email

Short Abstract

Scientific instruments translate processes of non-human appearing into human terms. Staging of this relationship and researching it is research of the techniques of appearing, artistic research. The presentation focuses on the question of the unit of measurement as an empirico-aesthetic entity.

Long Abstract

Scientific instruments translate processes of non-human appearing into human terms. But they do not abolish the relative phenomenological independence of those processes. Continuing the recent argument by Jean-Luc Nancy, "in-struments" could be conceived as our means to deal with the "struction", the original "accumulation" of things. (Nancy 2014) Staging of this relationship and researching it is research of the techniques of appearing, artistic research.

In this lecture-demonstration I attempt to indicate how research in performing arts can be conceived as research of the techniques of appearing. The basic instrument of my research is the performing body and its techniques. According to my hypothesis, the "unit of measurement" is an example of the empirico-aesthetic entity. This statement is clarified by a series of demonstrations, which tend to show how our understanding of any entity is empirico-aesthetic as well; how "object" and "body" constitute the two sides of every entity. Things can become measurable only by means of this structural familiarity. Therefore, it does not suffice that we sustain phenomenologically that measuring is originally an "embodied" operation, since our understanding of corporality (when and where there is a "body") is dependent on the scale of observation as well as well as on the relation between the dimension of the observer and that of the observed entity. As I argue, an object-body is constituted as a hostage of this kind of dimensional interplay, which, on the other hand, provides conditions for its measurability.

'Trust me I'm an Artist': exploring the world of BioArt as a boundary object

Authors: Afke Betten (VU University Amsterdam)  email
Frank Kupper (VU University Amsterdam)  email
Jacqueline Broerse (VU University Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

This paper addresses epistemological tensions around BioArt by approaching it as a boundary object. Drawing from a collaborative BioArt project called Trust Me I’m An Artist, we argue that tensions are inherent to BioArt as a boundary object and that attention should be given to explore their origin.

Long Abstract

BioArt is often described in terms of its potential to explore the boundaries and ethics of new technologies, art, and science in society, and to bridge gaps between these worlds. However, collaborations beyond disciplines can also give rise to tensions.

In this paper we address these tensions by approaching BioArt as a boundary object, where different groups collaborate without the necessity of consensus (e.g Star 2010). An example of such collaboration in BioArt is the Trust Me I'm An Artist project (TMIAAA). In a series of events TMIAAA brings together practitioners beyond disciplines in its aim to investigate modes of engagement of art and biotechnology. We participated in and observed TMIAAA events, had informal conversations, conducted interviews, and studied other recorded and written materials.

We argue that tensions are often grounded in differences between epistemological cultures and that these differences are inherent to BioArt as a boundary object. For example, tensions arose around the use of the term 'science communication', due to different conceptions of the term, hindering the collaborators' realization that their ideas on the role of BioArt in a public dialogue were essentially similar. We suggest that in such examples, exploring the origin of existing tensions can be valuable to improve and open up the collaborative practice.

With this paper we aim to contribute to a better understanding of BioArt and the blurring interfaces between art and science. Such an understanding seems especially important when discussing the potential of BioArt to address ethical issues around emerging technologies.

Emerging Post-Digital Methods of Artistic Production

Author: Michelle Kasprzak (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper I use two bodies of politically critical artwork to examine how 3D scanning and printing technologies utilised in artistic research contribute to STS dialogue on the backstage and practical technical concerns around the production of art, as well as material outcomes of digital processes.

Long Abstract

Within artistic practices technology can become a means for subversion and tool for political action. In this paper I examine two bodies of artwork which employ 3D scanning and printing technologies. I look at how these technologies and their use within artistic research contribute to STS dialogue on the backstage and practical technical concerns around the production of art. The cases include Renzo Martens' Institute for Human Activities, in particular IHA's collaboration with the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League to produce large scale sculptural self-portraits. To produce the final works, it was necessary to digitally export them from the Congo using 3D scanning and 3D printing techniques. These 3D renderings were then used by master chocolatiers to produce the final sculptural forms in chocolate, using "the very cocoa that League members have produced for global markets for the last century." (Martens 2014). The chocolate sculptures are for sale, subverting the art market by using Martens' profile to generate money for the plantation workers, in what Martens termed the "post-Fordist, affective economy". In another case study, artist Morehshin Allahyari reproduces antiquities destroyed by ISIS in Iraq, using 3D modeling and printing. Each (re)created sculpture also holds an embedded harddisk containing visual and textual information on the particularities of the lost original. In both cases, the technologies were instrumental in transforming the physical to digital to physical again, injecting a compelling technological backstory about material outcomes of digital processes (both hidden and overtly expressed) to artistic research with a critical, political outcome.

Everything will be screen

Author: Claude Draude (TU Braunschweig )  email

Short Abstract

This performative talk explores art as research practice analyzing the materiality and enactment of computer screens/displays in their daily use. Its aim is to find an enriching way of addressing the prevalence of screens beyond the dichotomy of the human user – computer interface.

Long Abstract

Screens are everywhere. As I write this abstract, "facetime" on the phone, draw money from the ATM, I interact with, touch, look at a screen - and you probably read these words on one, too. At first glance, screens are technological objects that reside silently in the background until they "come to life", for example when we turn on the computer or start a presentation. Mobile displays abruptly demand attention through push-up notifications, they vibrate and light up. It is usually not the screen as such that we notice, but the content it provides and the "windows" to other people and places. Regarding computing technology, this window is a coded (a semiotic, formalized, algorithmic) one. As it is reflected in the hyphen between human-computer interaction, the relation between human and screen interface is often described in a dualistic manner; human and screen are seen as two separate entities that need mediating. In contrast, I follow threads from STS considerations on screens (e.g. by M. Ziewitz (2011) in Special Issue of Encounters "Attending to Screens and Screenness") that criticize these dualistic assumptions. My proposal is to approach the materiality and enactment of screens with art as research methods in order to shift epistemologies and practices alike. In particular, I discuss the contemporary art work M(o)use (2015 by Chrischa Venus Oswald), which deals with telepresence, overlays, skin and screen; as well as I invite the audience to reflect on touch, gaze and screen by means of my own performative research experimentations.

The catastrophe of the encounter - experimenting with arts, sciences and climate change

Author: Carolina Rodrigues (Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP))  email

Short Abstract

The purpose of this presentation is to politicize the relationship between arts and sciences, from an experimental communication project (, which brings together artists and scientists, developed under a Brazilian network of research on global climate change.

Long Abstract

The purpose of this presentation is to politicize the relationship between the arts, sciences and climate change, from an experimental communication project (, which brings together artists and scientists, developed under a Brazilian network of research on global climate change. By producing a range of materials (videos, texts, collaborative workshops, performances and audiovisual exhibitions), we want to make the communication a continuous experimentation with the sciences and the arts, seeking to extract power from their materials, procedures, concepts and methods to establish new conditions of possibilities for the relationship between knowledge, people, information, images and many other beings and things, establishing new ways of speaking, writing and inhabiting the world (Ingold, 2007) . To this end, we consider arts and sciences as an event (Stengers, 2004) releasing them from their confinement in effectuation, from the borders and contours already given. We submit the arts and sciences to the catastrophe of the encounter - not a disaster to be remembered as a historical event or significant experience - but the perceptive collapse that leaves us vulnerable, before which we no longer know how to act, it is no longer possible to act on the coordinates established and fixed positions. The catastrophe of the encounter makes it vulnerable sciences and arts, giving rise to new forces, enabling the creation of new practices, feelings and thoughts about climate change.

The Eye Doesn't Click - Eyetracking and Digital Content Interaction

Authors: Onur Ferhat (Computer Vision Center)  email
Fernando Vilarino (Autonomous University of Barcelona)  email
Dan Norton (Computer Vision Centre)  email

Short Abstract

Multidisciplinary research (science, technology, arts) investigating visual interaction with digital content using ‘low-cost’ computer cameras for eye-tracking. The research is engaged in visual and technical development, and with public installations in open arenas for citizen feedback.

Long Abstract

The research is an investigation into 'low cost' eye-tracking solutions using in-built computer cameras. Interface developments are a series of digital triggers that respond to eye and head movements. The resulting proposal is a system of gaze-reactive abstract digital objects that evolve as they are observed.

Different areas of study are tackled here: 1) From the point of view of technology, research in robust computer vision algorithms is needed for efficient visual interaction, and they must be adapted to a low cost environment. 2) From the arts, vsual primitives of gaze interaction must be investigated in order to generate a novel alphabet of gaze based triggers. 3) The abstract digital objects and their evolving behaviour must be designed keeping in mind that their evolution is linked to human observation. 4) Finally, the prototyping of this project is in an open space for feedback in a living lab in the Library of Sant Cugat del Valles, Barcelona. In this space the multidisciplinary team installs artworks to test, understand, and integrate interaction modes from different public and users.

The research action is performed in a framework in which the above mentioned approaches (technological, scientific, artistic, and social-engagement) provide a crossed-feedback that is essential to the outcomes of each part, creating in this way an authentic fused area of epistemology.

The paper publishes a model of information interaction of multidisciplinary research.

To further share findings, we hope to install an interface in the conference, to test and share an audio-visual instrument triggered with eye-tracking.

Botanizing Belgrade Asphalt: Ethnographic Sensibility Training as Delicate Empiricism

Author: Marko Zivkovic (University of Alberta)  email

Short Abstract

This paper uses pedagogy combining arts-based research methods and enhanced modes of presentation developed in the Belgrade Fieldschool for Ethnographic Sensibility to explore affinities among training methods in arts, sciences and ethnography, and trace them back to Goethe’s “delicate empiricism.”

Long Abstract

Treating it as an art, anthropologists tend to let novices learn ethnographic fieldwork by the "sink or swim method." First run in June 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia, and now in its second year, the Fieldschool for Ethnographic Sensibility draws on sensorium training methods developed in arts (drawing, photography, music, acting and dance) to teach precisely the least codified, most art-like part of "ethnographer's magic" in a systematic way. Building on the initial moments of disorientation students experience in an unfamiliar setting (Belgrade), as well as their inability to speak the local language, we train them to become sensitive instruments for registering surprises, noting patterns in them, and transposing them into various media not limited to standard ethnographic description. We are concerned both with arts-based research methodologies and with art as an "enhanced mode of presentation and publication." My goal is to tease out some illuminating convergences among "sensibility training" methods in ethnography, arts and sciences. I will construct one possible genealogy that traces this "learning to become interface attentive to ever more subtle differences" (Latour) to Carlo Ginzburg's avatars of "conjectural science," Morelli, Freud, and Sherlock Holmes, and inserts them, together with Michael Polanyi, Gregory Bateson, Alfred Gell, as well as Simmel, Benjamin and Kracauer (as "botanizers of asphalt") into the tradition of "delicate empiricism" traceable back to Goethe the Scientist. I am particularly inspired by affinities between training young ethnographers and learning to render protein molecules as described by Natasha Myers in Rendering Life Molecular.

Incubations: Research between Art and STS

Authors: Michael Guggenheim (Goldsmiths, University of London)  email
Bernd Kraeftner  email
Judith Kroell  email

Short Abstract

Incubations are processes to experimentalize the relationship of lay people and experts. We discuss crucial features of incubations and how these negotiate the boundaries between STS and artistic practices: 1. experimental setup. 2.Pressure and containment. 3. mixing of materials 4.consumption contexts.

Long Abstract

In our contribution we discuss "incubations" as an approach to combine STS research with artistic practices that the authors have developped over the previous years. The term incubation refers both to the pressure cooker, a device to apply pressure and speed up processes, as well as temple sleep, a healing process that is used when usual forms of treatment do not work. Incubations are thus processes to experimentalize the relationship of lay people and experts. We discuss five crucial features of incubations and how these negotiate the boundaries between STS and artistic practices: 1. The creation of an experimental setup: the need to create an organisational context that is not easily classifiable as either art or social science . 2. The application of pressure to produce new forms of provocative containment: To create an experimental setup using pressure which allows to create unexpected and new socio-material formations. 3. The mixing of materials: to use both as research materials as well as output materials visual and auditory devices and data and 4. The creation of consumption contexts: to create contexts for dissemination which are neither purely scientific not artistic.

Representing Infrastructure: Labor, Distribution and the Intermission in South Asian Cinema

Author: Karl Mendonca (University of California, Santa Cruz)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will focus on experimental research methods that combine the concerns of software studies and participatory art used to study the intermission in South Asian cinema. It will also discuss aesthetic strategies used to represent a broader understanding of the infrastructure of cinema.

Long Abstract

The intermission or "samosa break" (as it is referred to in Bombay vernacular) has long been phased out from cinemas in most parts of the world, but is very much a routine and ongoing experience for movie-goers in India. While there is a significant body of work on Indian cinema that has focused on the textuality of film, there has been scarce theoretical attention paid to the material aspects of film production and distribution. As a working context for such an endeavor, my research has focused on Blaze Advertising, a company that held a monopoly on the distribution of cinema advertising across India from the 1960's until the 1980's. Their story takes an unexpected turn, when in 1986 the monopoly was disrupted and Blaze re-purposed their network as a domestic courier company (similar to FedEx). To complicate matters further, all of the company records were destroyed—the only trace of the original network is in the data logs of the courier web site.

Faced with an empty archive, I have begun to use more experimental methods that combine software studies and participatory art to recuperate and historicize the network. Building on this, the final output of my research will include a work of critical praxis that focuses on co-articulating the dual subjectivity of labor and the audience within the context of the intermission. This paper will focus on both the research methods and aesthetic strategies used to represent the infrastructure of cinema.

The Observatory: An approach to the interpretation of landscapes and embodied geographies.

Author: Alexandra Draghici (Trent University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper and short video presentation articulates my artistic research and approach to the interpretation of landscapes and embodied geographies alongside resonant intersections with Victorian science and ideology.

Long Abstract

This paper and short video presentation articulates my artistic research and approach to the interpretation of landscapes and embodied geographies alongside resonant intersections with Victorian science and ideology. My work is anchored by my relationship with the essence of a specific place. This paper focuses on my work in the Cheltenham Badlands of Caledon, Ontario, originally the land of the Mississauga First Nations. I have been working with this site across seasons since May 2014. I ask: How is essence discoverable? How do geographies take effect in our bodies? What permeates the fibre of things? What surfaces from a deeper source? What kind of value do we ascribe? I attempt to answer these questions through the framework of The Observatory. The Observatory is a curated collection of found and created curios which I draw from the sites I work with. The curios range from discovered artifacts, to physical responses to the emotions, themes and memories that surface on site. These responses may take the form of performance, dance, painting, photography, film, timed lighting design; and are influenced by archiving, cartography, framing, museum studies, and by emerging technologies. I aim to archive all that it is to be within my chosen environment through these disciplines and mediums, and to transfer essential data to the observer. What is important to me is that the curated data creates an experience that is restorative in the sense that traces are reflected everywhere. What is restorative is found through recognition.

The Technology of New Year Paintings and Its Consumption Culture: A case study on An Inter-construction Perspective

Author: Chen Xiang (Tsinghua University)  email

Short Abstract

This article examines technology changes and consumption culture changes in New Year Paintings in late Qing dynasty. It comes to the conclusion that neither technology determines social structure, nor social structure shapes technology. They are inter-constructed.

Long Abstract

This article examines technology changes and consumption culture changes in New Year Paintings in late Qing dynasty from a perspective of inter-construction. In China, New Year Paintings is a kind of folk art which represents social order in the traditional goods consumption. After late Qing dynasty, its technology, consumption culture, and even typical patterns have been changed for several times. A lot of research from art research has noticed the impact of consumption culture on its patterns. However, STS pay little attention to inter-construction between technology and consumption culture of New Year Paintings. In this paper, I intend to use technology changes and consumption culture changes in New Year Paintings as a case study to show how they inter-construct with each other. According to preliminary works, in late Qing dynasty, manual technology was quickly replaced by machinery printing technology in traditional cultural context of New Year Paintings. Meanwhile,a new pattern of New Year Paintings by new technology triggered a new kind of consumption culture. Thus, it could be assumed that there may be an inter-construction between technology and consumption culture. I argue that the changes in the technology of New Year Paintings and its consumption culture is worth studying from the standpoint of inter-construction, as it illustrates an interlaced discourse between the artistic , technical and the social context, therefore, it reflects complicated interactions between art, technology and society.

Key Words: New Year Paintings; consumption culture; folk art; technology transformation; inter-construction

Alchemical Craft: The use of Smart Materials in Contemporary Jewellery

Author: Katharina Vones (Edinburgh Napier University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyses how the recent emergence of terms such as alchemical craft hints at a paradigm shift in the field of contemporary jewellery, describing practices and practitioners who have used craft methodologies to work with novel materials and processes towards realising the crafted Posthuman body

Long Abstract

This paper analyses how the recent emergence of terms such as 'creative technologist' and 'alchemical craft' hints at a paradigm shift in the field of contemporary jewellery, describing practices and practitioners who have used craft methodologies to work with novel materials and processes. The figure of the alchemist and the ancient practice of alchemy have been connected to craft practitioners, and in particular goldsmiths and jewellers, from the early modern period onwards and epistemological changes during the 'New Jewellery" movement in the 1970s revealed the possibilities inherent in altered perceptions of material preciousness. A return to the idea of interdisciplinary knowledge exchange between the arts and sciences, as well as the establishment of a network of materials libraries that act as ideas incubators for the materially curious, has re-introduced the essence of alchemical practice to contemporary crafts practitioners. The different types and properties of thermochromics and photochromics are discussed, including their applications in practical experiments with layering pigments within three dimensional silicone shapes and stimulus-reactive jewellery. Bringing together digital methods of fabrication with craft methodologies to create objects that respond intimately to changes in the body of the wearer and the environment is presented as an outcome of this research project. Moving towards the notion of a posthuman body, potential practical applications for these jewellery objects exist in the areas of human-computer interaction, transplant technology, identity management and artificial body modification, where such symbiotic jewellery organisms could be used to develop visually engaging, multifunctional enhancements.

Art, Science and Technology: action and perception within interactive systems

Authors: Andreia Machado Oliveira (U.F.S.M.)  email
Gabriel Kolton (ESPM)  email
Félix Rebolledo-Palazuelos (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul)  email

Short Abstract

We examine how interactive art offers the underpinning of continuity to empirical questions that integrate art and life, using interaction as medium for its exploration. Interactive art is an art of action, not of vision: its goal is to experience the immediacy of information in real time.

Long Abstract

We examine how interactive art continues to offer the underpinning of continuity to empirical questions that integrate art and life, using interaction as medium for its exploration. In interactive art, there is reciprocal activity between the viewer and the artwork where any simple move in the presence of the work can produce transformative reciprocity. Interactive art is an art of action more than of vision: its goal is to experience the immediacy of (in)formation in real time. It seeks to slow down the moment of the encounter so one can experience in "real time" the effects of the artwork on the viewer and the viewer on the artwork. That power of interactive art to sense temporality and enable visibility of the possibilities of the encounter is worthy of attention because, even if limited by the programming, the artwork renders explicit the transformations that occur when work, human and milieu compose each other. The artwork as individuation renders explicit problems, situations, issues as states of affairs pertinent to contemporaneity since the work only comes into being and acquires existence when the relationship is established in the encounter. The artwork seeks to provoke activity in the viewer and gives rise to responses which determine the relationship and subsequent attunement that is established in the here and now generated in the enmeshment. The artwork, the viewer and the milieu become one through the resulting embodied, situated, and enacted forms of cognition characterised by the affects and percepts produced in the aesthetic experience.

Authorship as a Lens in Technology and the Arts

Author: Vygandas Vegas Simbelis (Mobile Life / KTH)  email

Short Abstract

In terms of authorship as conceptual lens to understanding what the digital interactions and machines are doing in our time and age. The work attempts to deal more explicitly with aesthetics and interaction, where participants are invited to share their creative skills.

Long Abstract

An important lens through which we can study some of the divisions of what it means to be human and what it means to be a machine in this digital age is through asking questions of authorship. In my work, I do engage in practices of interactive arts. In short, my projects have been building on computational models to create some interaction with the audience coming to experience my machines. Authorship is a potentially broad concept, but in this context, we will think of it as questioning who is the creator of the art: the artist, the machine that interactively created the output, or the participants that interacted with it, feeding the machine with their input?

When we place digital interactions alongside other materials and media, new opportunities to explore interactive art experiences arise. The machine is given more and more intentionality and autonomy in this digital era. We get self-driving cars, robots and smart adaptive services based on big data. This development in a sense started already with the digital revolution at the turn of the last century or even earlier with the industrial revolution. In this paper, we have returned to one of the biggest questions asked at the time of early industrialism: if the machines can act on their own, creating mass-manufactured objects, can they then also create art - the ultimate human expression?

On becoming precarious. Approaching the interface in new artistic practices

Author: Desiree Foerster (University Potsdam)  email

Short Abstract

Desiree Foerster investigates artistic strategies of contamination of those established categories that serve the classical humanist understanding of the self, mediated by the technological interface.

Long Abstract

This paper investigates artistic strategies of contamination and abstraction of those established categories that serve the classical humanist understanding of the self, the governmental modes of law and discipline, that Michel Foucault described in the 1970s. Assuming that the conditions for the ways we think, the perspectives available, how we feel and experience, are increasingly constituted by technology, is contrasted with the aesthetic description and situatedness of the human subject in times of codification of life, synthetic biology, the encompassing availability of information, and human induced changes on planetary scale. The revelation of the technological constitution of our existence, gives view on a fragile situation in which aesthetic practices might have an epistemological effect: Technology today is more than prostheses and externalizations of bodies or minds; furthermore they implement themselves within the fundamental conditions of human experience, the being-in-the-world, and so constitute the possibilities of action, perception and feeling in a new extent. Consequently, a new sensibility of the aesthetic is being cartographied by the arts using exactly that media that are constitutive for the self-positing of the human under comprehension of heterogeneous enounciations. The interface used and produced by artists, may it be outside or inside living bodies, or inter/intra-connecting nonhuman matters, is investigated as the moment where the precarious is either being controlled, produced, made seeable, sayable, or subsurfaced. In analyzing artistic trans-/re-coding technologies and apparatuses, this paper looks at the necessary limitations and new demarcations that must be realized, in order to re-established a space for action.

Digital Baroque: Pipe organs as Instruments of Artistic Knowledge

Author: Peter Peters (Maastricht University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents ethnographic fieldwork on the design and building of a new and hybrid baroque pipe organ at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. It follows the organ builders in their attempt to turn the organ sound from the time of Bach into a starting point for new music in the era of digital performance.

Long Abstract

Of all musical instruments, the pipe organ has the longest history of innovation. Organ builders always incorporated new practices in music making, as well as new technologies. Organs are aesthetic and technological mirrors of their time. Recently, scholars from science and technology studies and sound studies have focused on innovations in musical technologies. Drawing on this work, the paper focuses on how new knowledge, techniques and craftsmanship are developed in the case of building a new baroque organ at the Orgelpark, a concert venue in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I present ethnographic fieldwork on the design and building of this organ that can be used for contemporary and historically informed ways of making music by providing both mechanical and digital access access to baroque sound material. The Amsterdam project dovetails with the international trend of research organs. These instruments of knowledge create experimental situations: they can be 'read' and queried with regard to a range of questions. In my ethnography of the Amsterdam baroque organ project, I hope to contribute to an exchange of insights between fields such as science and technology studies, sound studies, and artistic research. In the emerging field of artistic research, it has been argued that works of art not only have an aesthetic value, but also can be presented as knowledge claims. This paper investigates how artistic knowledge claims are constructed through creating material assemblages, of which the hybrid baroque organ is an example.

Listening on Display. Exhibiting 'Klangkunst' 1980s-2000s

Author: Linnea Semmerling (Maastricht University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines how the rise of 'Klangkunst' has challenged the existing curatorial strategies at German museums and other contemporary art venues (1980s-2000s), and how research into the experiences of artists, curators and visitors may inform new strategies for the display of sounding artworks.

Long Abstract

The gallery spaces at museums and other contemporary art venues have long been quiet spaces for the display of visual artworks. This tranquility has come to be challenged by a variety of sounding artworks, but most specifically by the so-called 'Klangkunst' that has been coined in Germany during the late 1980s and early 1990s to describe sounding artworks ranging from kinetic sculptures to loudspeaker installations.

This paper sets out to examine how the rise of Klangkunst (1980s-2000s) has challenged the existing curatorial strategies at museums and other contemporary art venues in Germany by asking the following sub-questions: (1) What aesthetic-experiential and technological challenges have artists felt faced with when positioning their sound works in a museum context? (2) How have curators dealt with artists' conceptions of sound, the everyday reality of the institution, and the technologies available? (3) How have museum visitors experienced and evaluated sounding artworks? (4) What lessons can be drawn for the display of sounding artworks today?

In order to answer these questions, I will focus on particular sculptures and installations in their respective exhibition situations at historically significant venues, such as Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen or Singuhr Hörgalerie Berlin. By means of archival research in museum depots and artist studios as well as qualitative interviews drawing on sensory ethnography, I aim to understand artists', curators' and visitors' experiences. This will be complemented by a theoretical analysis drawing on the notions of 'listening habitus', 'performativity', and 'affordances'.

Sounding Funk: Experiments with Aural Representations of Fieldwork

Author: Alexandra Lippman (UC Davis)  email

Short Abstract

Funk carioca (Rio funk) musicians liken themselves to scientists and re-invent technology for unintended purposes. I experiment with producing “sound ethnographies” and sonic montages to explore relationships between art, technology, and ethnographic representation.

Long Abstract

Funk carioca (Rio funk) began as musicians sampled and dubbed over African American dance music and—with increased access to computers—gradually added Afro-Brazilian rhythms and instrumentation. Funk musicians often liken themselves to inventors and scientists—one pioneering DJ is named "Cientista"—while sound systems compete over having the loudest, latest, and most spectacular technology which promises to overwhelm the senses of its public. Since the 1980s, funk has served as the most common creative expression of Afro-Brazilian youth, booming throughout the city and drawing an estimated 1 million people to weekly dances (bailes) in working-class suburbs and favelas.

To avoid silencing the noisy complexity of my data, I have experimented with producing "sound ethnographies," which include field recordings to engage with the particularities of sound. In this presentation—inspired by the practices of funk DJs—I borrow their performance technique to create a sonic montage reflecting on the baile as a space of appropriation and experimentation with technology in the service of art. In doing so I explore how the relationships between art and technology play out through sound.

To explore the possibilities for arts-based research methods and enhanced modes of presentation and publication, I founded the research collaboration, the Sound Ethnography Project. The Sound Ethnography Project is an experiment in engaging with sound to produce novel ethnographic methods and forms. Through the website, occasional exhibitions and live performances, I ask how form and format affect ethnographic representation.

I contribute to STS through attending to ongoing cultural aspects of technological appropriation and the relations between art, technology, and ethnographic representation .

The (un-)sound public experiment: on the artifice of research exhibitions

Author: Laurie Waller (Technische Universität München)  email

Short Abstract

In what ways is sound an experimental object for STS? Drawing on ethnographic research, this paper discusses how the exhibition of an early synthesizer provided an occassion for research experiments between historians of technology, computing researchers, sonic artists and their publics.

Long Abstract

STS researchers have recently proposed studying sound as a way to open up and problematize in new and interesting ways some of the long standing debates in the field. This paper asks in what ways sound might be considered an experimental research object for STS?

Drawing on ethnographic research, this paper discusses an exhibition experiment with a recently rediscovered synthesizer from the early 1960s. A distinctly "un-sound" discovery - the synthesiser was never performed in public by its inventor, few recordings exist of it and it no longer functions as a musical instrument - the paper describes the artifice involved in exhibiting the synthesizer. I highlight how the process of exhibiting the syntheiszer provided an occassion for experimental research in the history of technology, computing research, sonic art to develop. Through participatory, practice-based and interactive approaches, these experiments mixed the repertoires of artists and researchers, their relations to the syntheiszer and to each other.

I use this case as an opportunity to explore whether, and in what ways, recent STS research on sound might be productively brought together with studies of public experiments. The exhibition not only assembled an electronic music audience for these researchers but also afforded researchers the opportunity to publicly test, in particular ways, the capacities of the synthesizer as a historical artefact, the interactivity of its interface, and its potential as a musical instrument. Attending to the artifice of this exhibition experiment, I explore what studies of sound technology might offer STS research on materials and devices of the public.

Aesthetics of patenting lives

Author: Tzung-wen Chen (National Cheng-chi University)  email

Short Abstract

Patent drawings in the domain of regenerative medicine are analyzed from perspectives of pragmatist aesthetics and theory of disposition. The drawings depend on inventors' dispositions and experiences. They are signals of inventors' positions in a social space.

Long Abstract

This research studies patent drawings in the domain of regenerative medicine, from perspectives of pragmatist aesthetics and theory of disposition, to understand more about scientific and artistic practices. Hundreds of selected patents - awarded to inventors of various institutions and countries - are analyzed. A first argument is that patent drawings make invisible parts (micro-structure, abstract model, statistical data etc.) of an invention to be perceptible through human eyes. Making patent drawings consists of three levels of practice: operation, interpretation and expression. STSers know that from operation to interpretation produces visualized (scientific) evidences. The research focuses on the process from interpretation to expression. Thus, a second argument is that drawing formation in patenting practices includes scientific, technical, economic and legal dimensions. Drawing formation is an artistic activity that shows the best practice in the form of a visual artwork, and at the same time, maximizes economic and legal scopes of invention by the artwork. Moreover, patent drawings taken from paper figures may be recognized differently. For example, Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk was awarded an US patent in which photos of human stem cells are from a scandalous paper he retracted previously. A third argument is that drawings are "signals" of the inventors' positions in a semi-autonomous social space (patent field). The practices depend on inventors' experiences and their positions in the field. 'Pure' academic inventors tend to ignore patent strategies. On the contrary, 'star' scientists often provide skillful drawings, which are co-produced by elite law firms.

Drawing and the 'depictive turn' in science

Authors: Sarah Casey (Lancaster University)  email
Gerry Davies (Lancaster University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will take the notion of the ‘practice turn’ to develop the idea of the ‘depictive turn’ in scientific research. Examining contemporary art practice, we present a case for drawing as an innovative strategy through which observed, embodied and haptic phenomena can be made tangible and communicated.

Long Abstract

While drawing has a legacy in scientific research (Hooke, Herschel, Cajal), conventional narrative sees it superseded with the advent of new 'objective' technologies. However, recent research demonstrates there are characteristics specific to drawing that make it particularly adept as a research tool: Its capacity to organise and synthesise different forms of information and sensory experience. If we now understand that visualisation is not 'objectively' disembodied but a complex interrelation between mind & body (Serres 2008; Fiorentini 2009; Lawrence and Shapin 1998) might it be these very qualities that offer drawing to the service of research?

The paper will highlight examples of investigative art practices where target information is beyond sight, obscured by complexity and requires innovative methods and relationships to draw out meaning. This image-rich presentation uses case studies of artists deploying drawing alongside scientists, e.g. in medical labs and oceanographic fieldwork and present examples of disciplinary exchange and effect.

We draw on experience from our own practices, as artists working respectively, with cave exploration and in collaboration with conservators and cosmologists, to offer insight into how artists (re)orient their imagination, sensitivity and skills to engage the depictive turn alongside colleagues in science.

Reenactment as a research strategy: video art, video analysis, and vice-versa

Author: Philippe Sormani (Swiss Institute in Rome)  email

Short Abstract

This contribution probes the heuristic, if not subversive potential of video art for video analysis in STS, and vice-versa. For this purpose, the contribution reenacts and reexamines a promotional video of a big science project – the so-called “Human Brain Project” (HBP).

Long Abstract

Visual analysis, and more recently video analysis, remains an important research strategy in STS at large (Carusi et al. 2015; Coopmans et al. 2014), as well as for particular approaches in and beyond STS, including ethnography and ethnomethodology (Broth et al. 2014; Sormani et al., forthcoming). Video art, in turn, has hardly provided an STS topic, let alone an analytic resource, in contrast to fiction and non-fiction film (e.g., Galison 2015; Macbeth 1999). Therefore, this contribution probes the heuristic, if not subversive potential of video art for video analysis in STS, and vice-versa (for a related line of argument, see Uroskie 2014). More specifically, this contribution makes the case for reenactment as a research strategy, on the one hand, and the video display of its startling results for an institutional and conceptual critique, on the other. The contribution sets out with examining a promotional video for a big science project - the so-called "Human Brain Project" (HBP) - and then draws upon filmed reenactments of selected video sequences as an heuristic resource to make explicit the video's methodic montage, a montage which lends "social credibility" (Shapin 1995) to arguable cognitivist reductions (notably in view of "neuromorphic computing"). In so doing, the outlined paper contributes to an "institutional critique" (Fraser 2005) of big science projects of potentially artistic interest too, given the envisaged video display and its site-specific installation at the 4S/EASST conference.

Visual art and engineering design visualizations - a cross-disciplinary project

Authors: Yvonne Eriksson (Mälardalen University)  email
Ulrika Florin (Mälardalen University)  email
Gunilla Sivard (School of Industrial Engineering and Management )  email

Short Abstract

Digitalization and automation are key words in contemporary manufacturing contexts, including simulation and visualizations. By using artistic experiences it is possible elaborate with, from the perspective of manufacturing and engineering, unconventional ways to present future scenarios

Long Abstract

Digitalization and automation are key words in contemporary manufacturing contexts, including simulation and visualizations. There are high expectations on virtual factory planning and virtual product development based on production simulations. But resulting data from simulations is often hard to interpret for various stakeholders with differing interest, therefore methods for how to visualize data from simulations is required.

In order to improve the design of visual presentations it is necessary to develop methods for visualizations, methods that includes theories about visual perceptions and what cognitive processes are involved in multimodal interpretations, in combination with social-construction theories and practice. In a cross-disciplinary project, the experience from artistic practise is combined with competences from visual studies and engineering design. In the project the artistic contribution is part of the core competence. From artistic experience it is possible to elaborate with, from the perspective of manufacturing and engineering, unconventional ways to present future scenarios; scenarios that will work as boundary objects for different stakeholders in different situations. The challenge is to go from conventional engineering drawings and 3D models to use visuals based on artistic and communicative aspects in order to facilitate decisions about factory layout, production development and services. 

Collective making: Explorations of actor-network theory, ants, and art

Author: Kristian H. Nielsen (Aarhus University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores relations between actor-network theory (ANT) and the bio-art project Symbiosity of Creation. Consisting of ant colonies kept in “incubators”, the project challenges viewers (and scholars) to consider the implications of employing ANT (and ants) as part of artistic practices.

Long Abstract

The project Symbiosity of Creation (sometimes exhibited as ANTS' WAY) was initiated in 2012 by Polish artist Jarosław Czarnecki aka. Elvin Flamingo and is expected to last until ca. 2034. The project consists of two ant colonies kept in separate "incubators" built by the artist. Seeking inspiration in various fields such as bio-art, contextual art, relational aesthetics, social performance and social theory (including actor-network theory), the artist (who is also a DIY filmmaker) wanted "to create a 'film' that lives its own life, participating, interactive, and symbiotic with me."

Actor-network theory (ANT) builds on metaphors of collective making and socio-material composition of common worlds. The allusion to ant communities (probably) is coincidental and rarely explored in greater detail. Nevertheless, ANT invites us to understand society as an ongoing achievement being gradually composed by organisms and materials, much in the same way that we see ant colonies under construction in Elvin Flamingo's art project. Like human societies, ant colonies involve myriads of actors working together on the joint composition of common worlds.

Flamingo's bio-art project extends ANT into artistic practice, asking us to probe similarities/differences between the collective making of human societies, ant colonies, and artworks, respectively. Viewers of Symbiosity of Creation are invited to see actions that are normally attributed to human societies, such as communication, farming, innovation, etc., reflected in the activities of ants. STS and art scholars for their part are invited to consider the extent to which ANT can and ought to be accomplished by non-academic means.

Doing research by other means: the example of artLAB

Author: Regula Valérie Burri (HCU Hamburg)  email

Short Abstract

Building on Law (2004) and Lury & Wakeford´s (2012) quests to invent new methods in STS and the social sciences in general, and drawing on the example of a research and teaching format called artLAB, this paper shows how the inclusion of art may add to conventional ways of doing research.

Long Abstract

Building on STS scholars such as Law (2004) and Lury & Wakeford (2012) who have suggested to invent new methods in order to grasp the multiple social realities, this paper will make an argument for the stronger inclusion of art in the exploration of sociomaterial realities. Along with other authors (Salter, Burri & Dumit, forthcoming) it claims that STS can profit from art in different ways: (1) the inclusion of visual and multisensory as well as creative and performative approaches in the research process may add to the more cognitive modes of knowledge production in STS; (2) art works reach other and often broader audiences than written scientific work, thus facilitating the inclusion of more people and wider publics in the reflection on science and technology; and finally (3) art interventions can be regarded as forms of political engagement with sociomaterial worlds and can thus be seen as a particular contribution in STS to the shaping of technosocieties.

This paper will inquire into these issues by focusing on artLAB - a research and teching format dedicated to the exploration of the science/art nexus. Inspired by debates on "Artistic Research", especially criteria developed by Borgdorff (2006, 2010), participants in this format develop artistic research projects which are shown and debated in public. Drawing on a sample of such projects, this paper shows how the stronger inclusion of art practices may add to conventional ways of doing research in STS and in the social sciences in general.

The role of boundary objects in artistic research. An analysis of their epistemic potential and structuring function in research environments

Author: Johanna Schindler (Zeppelin University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper looks at two boundary objects developed in artistic research contexts. It examines the boundary objects’ potential in knowledge transfer between the involved researchers and explores the objects' influence on the structure of the ongoing research processes.

Long Abstract

Based on ethnographic field research carried out in two artistic research projects, this contribution firstly explores the epistemic potential of boundary objects created during the examined projects. Secondly, it will look at the boundary objects' structuring function in the analyzed research settings.

The investigated projects were located in (a) Germany and (b) Switzerland; the examined objects were (a) a newly developed digital musical instrument and (b) a computer- as well as biofeedback-controlled space. The researchers stemmed from various disciplines such as computer science, musicology, product design, media studies, and media arts. Regardless of their rather artistic or rather scientific educational background, the observed researchers deployed an artistic working mode to create multifunctional objects. That is, they developed objects, which served both as investigative instruments for their research endeavor and as presentation of first results. Even though artistically designed, these objects were neither intended nor considered to be artworks. Rather, they remained work in progress and were a first step in the search for an adequate presentation format of the research results. In both cases, journal articles were combined with the organization of events during which the audience could experience the objects personally.

The analysis will focus on the following questions: How do the researchers' individual backgrounds and research interests become manifest in the boundary object's design and functionality? And in which manner do the boundary objects structure the ongoing research processes, for example when new research questions evoked by the objects require a re-organization of the researchers' work?

This track is closed to new paper proposals.