Symposium about “Interference” – Art and science in creative interaction

Foto: Rie Linnea Lindgren-Olsen

Last week, we had the great pleasure of attending a symposium about art and science at Nikolaj Kunsthal, where Art Music Denmark had participated as collaborators on the symposium. Nikolaj Kunsthal is currently showing the cross-artistic exhibition “Interference”, where sound artist Signe Heinfelt and astrophysicist Jo Werhold have worked with sensuous mediation of complex science.

At the symposium, which took place in relation to the current exhibition, we got different perspectives – artistic, musicological and scientific – on how science and art can partake in a fruitful and mutually beneficial relation. That counts for both art understood in a broad sense as sell as sound art more specifically, which is one of the genres, we at Art Music Denmark is working for and with. Holger Schulze, professor in musicology and previously associated with Art Music Denmark as NEUSTART-consultant, highlighted specifically how both sound art and science played a role in his musicological work.

But does science and art usually have anything in common, which could make a cross-disciplinary collaboration constructive? The conclusion at the symposium was, in a sense, both yes and no. An essential claim was that both artists and scientists usually have an interest in appropriating a higher understanding of reality for the benefit of both themselves and others. But with two distinct approaches to our reality – the objective reality in the case of science and the more subjective in the case of art – both disciplines can contribute with a new dimension or perspective, which can foster inspiration for the other, at least in principle. Therefore, it’s relevant to examine the opportunities for more interesting cross-disciplinary collaborations between the two disciplines, among other things for what comes to creating new art and exhibitions.

Can aesthetic and sensuous experience grant us new approaches or insights into the natural sciences? Or can science inspire artists to examine and work with the world in ways that can give us new perspectives on the reality we inhabit? How do we secure an equal meeting between the two disciplines, when they are a part of an exhibition? And how can we change the cultural apprehension of art and science as to clearly distinct disciplines, insofar this is relevant for cross-disciplinary work in the future? These were some of the most crucial questions, which were posed at the symposium, and that we believe can be relevant to reflect more upon for actors working with facilitating or creating  such collaborations.

One of our intentions for participating in this exciting collaboration has been to facilitate a new exchange of ideas between actors from the different fields. To create and strengthen a bridge between (sound) art and science, hopefully for the benefit of actors from both fields in the future. From the very beginning, we were certain that a strong and exciting partner like Nikolaj Kunsthal could facilitate this. As a sparring partner. we offered them suggestions for ideas and focus for the symposium as well as contributed to the content by suggesting speakers. It’s some of our core tasks to create new collaborations in favor of, inter alia, actors working with sound art and the dissemination of the genre. And it was certainly also our view that the symposium resulted in an interesting, in-depth and dialogic addition to Nikolaj Kunsthal’s current exhibition. where it was a very positive experience to feel how there arose a curiosity and interest in working across the two disciplines.

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