Goldsmiths, University of London is launching a new MSc programme for the academic year 2018-19 in Psychology of the Arts, Neuroaesthetics and Creativity, the first postgraduate programme in the world for the scientific study of aesthetics and creativity.
At the intersection of the arts and the sciences, the programme introduces you to the psychology and the cognitive neuroscience of how humans generate new ideas, how we appreciate beauty, and how we form preferences.
Aesthetic and creative decisions are relevant in the visual and the performing arts, and in many applied and commercial contexts, ranging from clinical interventions to curating exhibitions, from dance choreography to marketing and advertising. Based in the Department of Psychology, in collaboration with Computing, Media and Communications and the Institute of Management Studies, the course builds critical knowledge, research and communication skills across the arts and the sciences, centred around two key topics: the psychological and brain mechanisms of making (Creativitiy) and appreciating (Neuroaesthetics) art. Conducting a research project with an interdisciplinary focus will prepare you for a research career in aesthetic or creative science, working in the creative industry, or to develop your artistic practice.
Goldsmiths is uniquely placed to offer this programme, with an internationally renowned reputation in the arts and the sciences. Existing courses combining art and psychology often have a largely therapeutic focus and rarely cover the psychology of aesthetic appreciation or creative cognition, in a broader profile. In contrast, business-oriented courses in marketing, advertising and consumer psychology often lack adequate scientific training in experimental psychology or cognitive neuroscience methods, which is required for a scientific approach to aesthetics and creativity. Optional modules based in the departments Media & Communications, Computing, and the Institute of Management Studies will complement and challenge the scientific perspective, acknowledging the richly diverse, unique and culturally-specific nature of human aesthetic and creative practice.
When artists and scientists get together, creative sparks can fly. Collaborative sci-art projects are increasingly popular and one obvious benefit is the greater visibility of the research through the artist’s work.
Our project explored scientific and artistic aspects of Antarctic ice crystals.
But what’s in it for the scientists? It reinvigorates a curiosity about the system and brings an outsider perspective – but one that is expert in observing.
Taking a different perspective
We draw on a six-year collaboration to look at how science benefits from embracing a wider perspective on creativity. Our joint project started with an art-science speed-dating event, aimed at building collaborative teams.
We were able to build on the intrinsic fascination people have with Antarctica and the interest in climate science. The scientists acted as a conduit of research to the artist. This added another layer of meaning to the artwork and an entry point to conversations around Antarctic ocean processes and climate change. This loop of enquiry seems to happen differently in art-science collaborations.
Our collaboration has evolved from arm-chair slide shows, through cross-disciplinary participation and Antarctic expeditions, to a final stage that includes a proliferation of ideas around art, education and science.
The benefits to science can be difficult to articulate but chief among them is a reminder of the importance of open-ended exploration. Another is to be asked questions by someone who spent even more time simply looking at the object of scientific inquiry than the scientists themselves.
The first phase of our project was to find a catalyst to connect enthusiastic creative people. A second phase followed with the science team taking basic components of an art work (a large paper sculpture) with them to Antarctica and assembling them as they saw fit, much like a piece of science equipment. This had impact, but was probably detrimental to the power balance in the collaboration because it left the scientists in control of both the art and the science. It turned out that the scientists didn’t follow instructions, and instead responded to the constraints of the working environment – much like the art practice.
The next step involved getting the artist to Antarctica, embedded with the science. This had to be navigated carefully to ensure that the art retained its own priority as well as collaborating with the science, rather than being simply co-located.
A cornerstone to this was a request that the artist should make scientific measurements and, by doing so, added a whole new dimension where by there was an art perspective on the actual scientific process.
History of sci-art collaboration
In the past, artists were often involved in research purely to document the science. Captain James Cook took the painter William Hodges to polar extremes where he captured Antarctic seascapes. When the paintings were prepared for an exhibition in 2004, X-radiography revealed a different and unfinished view of icebergs in a rough sea.
Edward Wilson, a doctor and artist, accompanied Robert Falcon Scott to the pole and beyond. In some ways, these people acted as impartial sounding boards for the explorers and scientists at the time. The ease with which photography is achieved today has reduced the need for this role, but has something been lost along the way?
Much has been written about how facts alone do not convince people. A sideways approach that comes from an entirely different artistic perspective might therefore have a chance of penetrating established boundaries.
The art of science communication
Where once science was its own domain, this is no longer the case. Implications of research findings need to connect with broader audiences. But how can you explain something you barely understand yourself to multiple publics?
Our collaboration was initially largely unfunded and viewed as an irrelevant curiosity. However, support built quickly, to the point that the project was used to open a recent national Antarctic Science Conference.
Through all the phases of our work, we made connections with young people. We had sufficient support from teachers to develop workshops and extra-curricular activities for schools, and the climate topic made this part of our engagement more effective.
What is in it for science?
Lots, it turns out. The scientist is reminded of the power of curiosity, something that can get lost in times of targeted research. The artist also asks questions based on hours and hours of observing the system at hand. Somewhat unexpectedly in our case, the artist became a documentor of the work in a way that we hadn’t previously achieved.
Added benefits are embedded with the next generation of scientists who will more readily span the divide, to the extent that they may not know a gap once existed. Also, part of the future science cohort may exist simply because of the inspiration found in art that connects with science.
We are at a time where the entire collective knowledge of our species is available with a stab of a fingertip. It becomes possible, necessary even, to leap across disciplines to generate new ideas.
What’s the Net Listening to? New prize question byT he Junge Akademie. Which would like to focus on the social, political, economic, artistic and technical scope of networks and networks.
Computer networks, spy networks, traffic networks, survey networks, production and distribution networks, social networks in art, science, politics, neural networks… What do they hear? How do they sound? What is their story? Who networks with whom? Who is connected? Who listens in and how much do they hear? Who is entrapped? Who is left out? What is unseen, but not unheard?
With this prize question, the Junge Akademie addresses the societal, political, economic, artistic and technical scope and significance of networks and networking.
The two-day workshop „Art & The City: New Cultural Maps“ explores intuitions, approaches, views and actions from different perspectives and cultures, facing questions and dilemmas related to heritage management and governance in multi-cultural urban and metropolitan frameworks.
The discussion will focus upon the radical change affecting society and the economy, and transforming the cultural paradigm from a competitive and dimensional struggle into a participative and synergic challenge, with new needs to cross-fertilise tradition and innovation.
Economists, urbanists, jurists, architects, philosophers and artists will perform an intensive and nonprejudicial exchange aimed at crafting sharp questions and drawing credible trails to our future, in the awareness of the growing importance of art and culture in social dynamics.
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The event will be filmed and videos soon available!
If you would like to host a satellite edition of Innovate Heritage, please get in contact at email@example.com
In a new paper for the Royal Society Blatchford has combed the Western artistic tradition for representations of eclipse. Here, he reveals how science and symbolism worked together over seven centuries to convey and understand the magic of the moment when the moon embraces the sun.
Blatchford points out, “the artist remains the most accurate witness of an eclipse, whose individual optical effects may appear and vanish in an eye-blink.”
Astronomers in search of eclipses. Engraving illustrating “The Devil in Paris”, Jean Grandville (1803-1847), publisher George Sand, Charles Nodier, Balzac, Léon Gozlan and P.J. Stahl (pseudonyme de Jules Hetzel). 1845-46. Roger-Viollet / Topfot
It’s the last year of Kafka’s life and he’s fallen in love with Dora Diamant, a young girl of nineteen or twenty who ran away from her Hasidic family in Poland and now lives in Berlin. She’s half his age, but she’s the one who gives him to courage to leave Prague. Every afternoon, Kafka goes for a walk in the park. More often than not, Dora goes with him. One day, they run into a little girl in tears, sobbing her heart out. Kafka asks her what’s wrong, and she tells him that she’s lost her doll. He immediately starts inventing a story to explain what happened.
‘Your doll has gone off on a trip,’ he says. ‘How do you know that?’ the girl asks. ‘Because she’s written me a letter,’ Kafka says. The girl seems suspicious. ‘Do you have it on you?’ she asks. ‘No, I’m sorry,’ he says. ‘I left it at home by mistake, but I’ll bring it with me tomorrow.’ He’s so convincing, the girl doesn’t know what to think anymore. Can it be possible that this mysterious man is telling the truth?’
Kafka goes straight home to write the letter. He sits down at his desk, and as Dora watches him write, she notices the same seriousness and tension he displays when composing his own work. He isn’t about to cheat the little girl. This is a real literary labour, and he’s determined to get it right. If he can come up with a beautiful and persuasive lie, it will supplant the girl’s loss with a different reality—a false one, maybe, but something true and believable according to the laws of fiction.
The next day Kafka rushes back to the park with the letter. The little girl is waiting for him, and since she hasn’t learned how to read yet, he reads the letter out loud to her. The doll is very sorry, but she’s grown tired of living with the same people all the time. She needs to get out and see the world, to make new friends. It’s not that she doesn’t love the little girl, but she longs for a change of scenery, and therefore they must separate for a while. The doll then promises to write the girl every day and keep her abreast of her activities.
That’s where the story begins to break my heart. It’s astonishing enough that Kafka took the trouble to write that first letter, but now he commits himself to the project of writing a new letter every day—for no other reasons than to console the little girl, who happens to be a complete stranger to him, a child he ran into by accident one afternoon in the park. What kind of man does a thing like that? He kept it up for three weeks, Nathan. Three weeks. One of the most brilliant writers who ever lived sacrificing his time—his ever more precious and dwindling time—to composing imaginary letters from a lost doll. Dora says that he wrote every sentence with excruciating attention to detail, that the prose was precise, funny and absorbing. In other words, it was Kafka’s prose, and ever day for three weeks he went to the park and read another letter to the girl. The doll grows up, goes to school, gets to know other people. She continues to assure the girl of her love, but she hints at certain complications in her life that make it impossible for her to return home. Little by little , Kafka is preparing the girl for the moment when the doll will vanish for her life forever. He struggles to come up with a satisfactory ending, worried that if he doesn’t succeed, the magic spell will be broken. After testing out several possibilities, he finally decides to marry off the doll. He describes the young man she falls in love with, the engagement party, the wedding in the country, even the house where the doll and the husband now live. And then, in the last line, the doll bids farewell to her old and beloved friend.
By that point of course, the girl no longer misses the doll. Kafka has given her something else instead, and by the time those three weeks are up, the letters have cured her of her unhappiness. She has the story, and when a person is lucky enough to live inside a story, to live inside an imaginary world, the pains of this world disappear. For as long as the story goes on, reality no longer exists.
The Naturkunde Museum in Berlin host a very interesting project where contemporary artmeetsnatural historyand research“Art/Nature.Artistic interventionsin the Museum ofNaturalHistory in Berlin“.
The project features interventions in the areas of sound art, fine art and literature, in which an experimental space for interactions between art, museum practice and natural research will be defined.
Natural history museums have always been places where artists were intensively involved in the study of nature. Alongside travelling researchers, artists have contributed to recording and depicting the history of life on Earth. In line with this tradition, the Federal Cultural Foundation and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin have embarked on a joint model project which invites international artists to develop interventions from 2014 to 2018 in one of the most renowned natural history museums in Europe.