The Live Creature and Ethereal Things

Lead Research Organisation: The Arts Catalyst
Department Name: Grants Administration

Abstract

1. To develop a radical new approach to science engagement, which focuses on the human experience of science - specifically fundamental physics -, drawing on discussions from a recent symposium organised by the applicants at the Institute of Physics, which brought together physicists, including STFC community, artists, and science engagement specialists. This approach contrasts with (but is intended to co-exist with) the standard science engagement model of providing information about the content of science, instead focusing on the experience of the "live creature" who does science - their background, motivation, interests and aspirations - and on using art-based methodologies to enable visual, physical and material encounters with the endeavour and extraordinary spaces of fundamental physics - cosmology, particle physics and astrophysics.

2. To test - and perform an initial evaluation of - this approach with people from both low and high "science capital" backgrounds (an idea borrowed from French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of social and cultural capital to describe how people engage with the arts) in two contrasting UK cities, Sunderland and London, which voted very different ways in the EU referendum.

3. For the public:
- To provide an impactful encounter with the environments and laboratories where fundamental science is performed through a large-scale immersive installation of film and photographic artworks by artist Fiona Crisp.
- To provide an interdisciplinary programme about the possibilities of experiencing science research through performances, lectures, screenings and music, enabling audiences and participants to experience different artistic approaches to make science intimate and personal.
- To give a platform to diverse scientific role models from British and BAME backgrounds and present physics as an intuitive (as well as rigorous), fundamental aspect of day-to-day life.
- To provide insights into how knowledge and science about the physical universe is created through experimentation and working in the laboratory.
- To come away with a sense of the diversity of motivations, interests and personalities of those undertaking science as a profession and how these human qualities drive science.

4. For scientist participants:
- To improve communication skills by enabling them to bring their backgrounds, personalities and values into their encounters with the public, and to explore their creative and cultural interests.
- To enable them to understand better the importance of allowing and representing diversity of backgrounds, approaches and personalities in science.
- To give them a re-energising experience and a different perspective on their work.

5. To continue to build a network of physicists and artists, particularly in the UK but with international members, who are interested in exploring and developing this alternative type of approach to science engagement.

6. To disseminate learning from these events and the network to other scientists and science engagement providers.

Planned Impact

A website will contain video, audio, text and image resources. An eBook will also be published, featuring texts and transcripts from the Institute of Physics workshop and other conversations held during the research phase.

These will be promoted widely via the communications offices of Arts Catalyst, NGCA, the Institute of Physics, Northumbria University, and other partners. The publication will be launched during the exhibition in Sunderland and will be available in digital formats downloadable from Arts Catalyst's website.

The website and eBook will also promoted via the network we have set up, founded at the workshop at the Institute of Physics on 13 October 2017, which includes scientists and staff from Durham University, Boulby Underground Laboratory, UCL, CERN, Gran Sasso, Cambridge University, Swansea University, and Greenwich Observatory, as well as Institute of Physics staff, and several artists. The evaluation report will also be made accessible to our networks as a case study.

We will seek opportunities to speak about the project at conferences and other events, nationally and internationally, to disseminate the learning from the project to educators and communicators. Arts Catalyst's Director Nicola Triscott is the 2017 President of the Science and the Arts Section of the British Science Association and will use related networking opportunities to talk about the project. She is also frequently invited to speak at art and science, art and research, and science engagement events in the UK and internationally. She is part of a proposal to hold a panel "Novel scenarios for art and science encounters" at the Ecsite Annual Conference 2018 in Geneva. Nicola also has extensive art-science networks in the USA, through which she can disseminate learning.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Material Sight 
Description Material Sight is a major new commission by artist Fiona Crisp, that uses photography, moving image and sound to approach the material environments where scientific experiments that challenge the limits of our imagination are carried out. Over nearly two years, in a research partnership with Arts Catalyst, Crisp has worked at three world-leading research facilities for 'fundamental science': Boulby Underground Laboratory, sited in the UK's deepest working mine, Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology, and Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, the world's largest underground laboratory for particle physics, housed inside a mountain in central Italy. Across all these sites, knowledge is pursued at scales and distances far beyond our human sensing, from the macro scale of the multiverse to the micro scale of the subatomic world. Within environments such as these, some of the most complex questions about the structure and history of the universe are being asked, yet the sites themselves, and the science performed in them, are often invisible or inaccessible to the public. In Material Sight, Crisp explores how we might encounter this sensory remoteness, not through a documentary narrative but by being placed into a physical, tangible relationship with the spaces and laboratories in which science is performed. To this end, Crisp builds a landscape of image and sound, using scaffolding to support a cycle of large-scale photographs and moving image works. The exhibition was shown at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, and Arts Catalyst, London. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This is reported in the engagement activities report. It was part of a series of activities that aimed to use visual and performance-based arts to engage people with science in new ways. The project did not focus on communicating scientific knowledge in a documentary form, but on helping people to relate to the embodied experience of 'being physicists' and 'doing fundamental physics' in extreme environments such as underground laboratories. It aimed to generate positive emotional responses in participants and increase their levels of science capital (the extent to which they relate to science and feel it is 'for them'). A detailed evaluation indicates that the exhibition contributed to the success of these aims, particularly in Sunderland. 
URL https://www.artscatalyst.org/material-sight
 
Description Intimate Physics Encounters (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Drop-in hands-on activities, demonstrations and intimate performances playing with sights, sounds and ideas from cosmology and fundamental physics. Visitors could make a gravitational lensing cyanotype with artist Annie Carpenter, create Cherenkov animations using a Victorian-inspired zoetrope with artists Natalie Kay-Thatcher and Jennifer Crouch (Jiggling Atoms), and learn about cosmic concepts through hands-on and sensory activities with Hacking Education and artist Lisa Pettibone.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.artscatalyst.org/intimate-physics-encounters
 
Description KOSMICA: Ethereal Things, a cosmic evening of music, film, performance and talks (Sunderland) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A special evening of performance, film, talks and music that aims to make the physics of the universe intimate and inspiring. With artists Nahum, Semiconductor, Annie Carpenter, Aoife van Linden Tol , jazz rock band Spacegong, and dark matter physicist Chamkaur Ghag.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.artscatalyst.org/kosmica-ethereal-things-cosmic-evening-music-film-performance-and-talks
 
Description Kosmica: Ethereal Things - a cosmic evening (London edition) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A special evening of performance, film, talks and music that aims to make the physics of the universe intimate and inspiring. With artist Annie Carpenter, artist and filmmaker Emilija Škarnulyte?, film-makers Semiconductor, dark matter physicist Chamkaur Ghag, and hip-hop artist Consensus. Spectacular cosmological visuals provided by the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Kosmica: Ethereal Things - drop-in activities (Sunderland) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Artists and scientists set up drop-in activities aimed at families. Visitors could drop in to make artworks inspired by the physics of the universe with artist Helen Schell, create a DIY black hole singularity with artist Annie Carpenter, learn about cosmic structure through origami with cosmologist Mark Neyrinck, and experience cosmic visualisations with scientists from Durham University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.artscatalyst.org/kosmica-ethereal-things