Science and art collaborations have a long history. The concept immediately calls up Leonardo da Vinci, though the story goes back to cave paintings, and is having a new Renaissance since the mid-twentieth century, as digital technologies, information access, education and social needs proliferate. IBM, Bell Labs and Xerox PARC set early example for corporate support and involvement, especially for art and technology. The NSF, NIH, DARPA, NEA, other federal agencies and private foundations are now increasingly interested in understanding and funding art/science projects. Trans-disciplinary programs are active in most research universities, and recently, STEM education initiatives began to add an A: full STEAM ahead. Creativity and innovation are the ‘hot’ key-words for economic revitalization, second only to sustainability.
Yet, most of society, and even many of us who think about these issues, do not fully recognize or understand the processes and potential of collaboration among the arts and sciences; and in not understanding we undermine their potential. The convergence of arts with design, engineering and science, in all human endeavors and social trends, is evermore evident everywhere around us. Creativity across and beyond self-limiting disciplines is a natural evolutionary tendency in all of us, nurtured today by the opportune-rich context of greater social freedoms, education and democratization. Technological development, understood as part of our sensate tuning-in to a wondrous information ecosystem, is adding to our new real-life understandings and worldviews.
Creativity in this setting is being driven by a perceived need to think different; to apply new, complex yet holistic understandings to critically troubling issues facing our world and ourselves. Science-art collaborations require honest, open-mindedness. They should not fall into the trap of old way categorizations, academic curricula, evaluative measurements or funding models, but should rather be understood as an aspirational social movement; an emergent response to our mysterious human/life journey. We are in need of good examples.
SARC is a new initiative that intends to develop and set grounded examples for needed, timely eco-social understandings, while aspiring to create and further highest level achievements and valued benefits. We intend to frame SARC next steps by asking some of the most important difficult questions of our time, and by telling inspiring stories, under the project title: “ECOS”.