1035   Individual paper

Art as Science Communication

Author: Megan Halpern
Michigan State University, United States

This talk will explore growing interest in the new field of art, science, and technology studies, specifically addressing the role of art in science communication. The authors, two editors of Routledge’s forthcoming International Handbook of Art, Science & Technology Studies, will provide an overview of the Handbook, and will describe several well known spheres where art and science communication intersect. Using both historical and contemporary examples, we will discuss the unique insights to be gained by examining art as science communication. First we will describe how artworks can make arguments about scientific ideas. For example, shifts in the ways artists visually represent objects of scientific interest can make arguments about the nature of objectivity or about evolution. Similarly, contemporary works in bioart and environmental art make arguments about our relationship with technology and with nature. Next, we describe how approaches to art and aesthetics can inform science communication. For example,  Dewey’s theory of aesthetic experience can help illuminate the aspects of communication that transcend understanding and explanation, offering a few examples of science communication as an act of expression rather than of explanation. Such a theory foregrounds interpretation and meaning making rather than understanding and attitudes. Finally, we will discuss challenges in the ways art as science communication is often conceptualized. Specifically, many STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), science communication, and informal learning programs instrumentalize art, expecting it to explicate or decorate science, or to enhance scientific explanations. Such practices may be novel, but ultimately may undermine the process of science communication. Conversely, when art and science communication interact in productive ways, interactions between the two can give rise to questions about the nature of art and of science.

Co-author: Hannah Rogers
University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

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