May 23rd, 2015 | Posted by admin in arts & science | creative industries - (Comments Off on imagivation)

IMG_3981My cinematic hero is WALL-E and his devotion to EVA is an inspiration.  They combine to emancipate us from lives mediated through screen banality, and motivate us to tackle an abandoned and destroyed environment.  They could be avatars for Prof. Helga Nowotny’s two types of innovation, the prevalent one of recombination and re-use, and the rarer type, of origination and invention.  The former, like the apple watch, is more easily exploited than the latter, like the work of the quantum device lab.  Nowotny suggests that innovation can be seen as clusters of invention, and while business are continually ‘trading off’ the two forms  of innovation, combinational innovation without origination quickly runs out of steam.  You can’t re-combine candlelight to create electric light.

Her call is for a theory of innovation to temper the positivist rhetoric that tells us that innovation is always good and always progressive, despite lifetimes of evidence to the contrary.  She tells the story of another robot, programmed to ask ethical questions, who on asking a young pupil “what words of comfort do you have for people in the future” received the reply “‘we didn’t have any idea what we were doing and what the consequences would be”.  This resonates strongly with our current concerns over biological innovation.

An innovation theory must reintroduce us to the importance of social and economic innovation to frame technological innovation. It must also address the point that while innovation takes place in the present it is ‘strongly entangled with our imagination of the future’.  Art is both rooted in, and plays with our imaginations, and has philosophical and ethical aspects that can help us with the unexpected dimensions of innovation. But our definitions of design as innovation and art as invention are far too simplistic and won’t help us to pursue the artist / instrumentalist opportunity emerging in project calls across Europe. Artists can also help us understand innovation consequences in our imaginings of the future.

Listen to Prof. Nowotny’s Gifford lecture at http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/humanities-soc-sci/news-events/lectures/gifford-lectures/helga-nowotny


March 21st, 2014 | Posted by admin in arts & science | news | ways of working - (Comments Off on Therapiness)

IMG_5515Public art and hospital developments are a good match.  Whether staff, patient or visitor, hospitals are sites that test us – the weariness of long stay, the drama of bad news, the weird sensory emporium of chemo chimes, endless corridors, and chemical smells.  So I have been pleased to be involved in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde’s work in this area, particularly the 100 Flowers project, taking its inspiration from the now extinct pleasure of giving and receiving visitor flowers, and destined to enhance the inside and outside of new buildings.

My first encounters with this agenda were a percent for art scheme in a new super-hospital in the North East of England, quickly followed by an arts and gardens scheme in a Thames Valley hospital redevelopment.  The challenges of synthesising artistic vision, client comfort zone, and project practicalities seem even more distant than the intervening years in the current developments in Glasgow.  The Health Board is attuned to the creative process, governance includes artists, and the method reaches into the communities served by the hospitals.

A flavour of the approach can be absorbed through these attachments – the Gartnaval Royal Hospital 2014 Legacy Public Art Commission and associated ‘art in the gart’ vision document.  For the artists among you the deadline is the 7th April.  Gartnavel Royal Hospital Legacy CommissionFinal4 artinthegart 16pp_proofNo2

streaming greening

November 20th, 2013 | Posted by admin in arts & science - (Comments Off on streaming greening)

I have been working in the field of culture, biodiversity and science communication with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew through much of 2013.  The project (Grow Wild) aims to make a major shift on how people engage with biodiversity where they live.  Progress in Scotland has been encouraging with the creation of a flagship project through public voting which will act as a pathfinder for the UK.  The Waterworks project will transform an old sewage farm into biodiversity tanks and a community resource.

A new community projects grants programme has also been set up to fund new ideas for working with native species of plants at local level, along with Young Grow Wild for youth workers and their cohorts.

We clearly identified a need for more initiatives at the interface of young people, community and biodiversity.  Better join up between sectors, some engaging science, and creative opportunity could go a long way in reversing the increasing gap between people’s lives and the natural world.

The Waterworks pathfinder project: http://gss.cmph.org/o/GPSHTM_LIgy4J7a–cstWg)    /    The Community Projects strand:  http://www.greenspacescotland.org.uk/grow-wild-funding-will-help-communities-bloom.aspx   /   The Young Grow Wild Programme:  http://www.youthscotland.org.uk/projects/growwild/growwild.htm

Seeding Symbiosis

April 21st, 2013 | Posted by admin in arts & science - (Comments Off on Seeding Symbiosis)

Drew Wylie consulting supports ASCUS art science collaborative.  The Director of Drew Wylie, Andrew Ormston, recently spoke at two key events for interdisciplinary working in Scotland.  The first was the Creative Scotland & Museums Galleries Scotland ‘Insights & Ideas’ seminar scheduled to coincide with Edinburgh’s International Science Festival.  Andrew introduced ASCUS and provided an overview of art / science collaborative activity, including international opportunities and citizen science developments  (http://april13insightscafe.eventbrite.com/).  Andrew then introduced the Imagining Natural Scotland information session in Edinburgh with ASCUS colleagues, including composer Julian Wagstaff and Simon Flower from the British Geological Survey (http://imaginingnaturalscotland.org.uk/).  Both events were well attended and ended with fascinating Q&As.

There are signs of a deepening interest in collaboration that reaches beyond just communicating science.

Image: Victimless Leather, a prototype of a stitchless jacket grown in a technoscientific “body”, 2004, by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr  (CultureLab)

The experimental expert

February 10th, 2013 | Posted by admin in arts & science | cultural policy - (Comments Off on The experimental expert)

We had to wait until the concluding remarks of Prof. Melissa Leach to hear the word ‘culture’ at the STEPS Symposium on ‘expertise, uncertainty and the global politics of scientific advice’.  While the tenor of the debate was rooted in concerns as to how science works as part of political economy and society as a whole, the question of how experts deal with this was left underdeveloped.  Those of us working in the CCI know that science, creativity and culture are profoundly intertwined for pretty much everybody.  There is a growing interest in trans-disciplinary collaboration coming from the worlds of both culture and ‘hard’ science.  The absence of experts to support more integrated and holistic research and practice is laid at the door of the science/humanities split forced upon our children, but in reality we need to do something now and this means prioritising trans-disciplinary expertise.

                                                       Image: Princeton University’s Upright Embryos meet Kandinsky’s Colour Study