SPACE Lab presented an expanded field of experiments as artworks co-developed by artists with astrophysicists. This show was the outcome of a year-long process involving in-depth conversations between seven collaborative teams of artists and astrophysicists exploring current research. Co-creative juxtapositions that emerged included exoplanetology and biodesign; speculative future scenarios and decolonisation; black holes and acoustic equivalence; structures of the universe and epigenetic memory; space travel and cultural immortality; dark matter and sensing the invisible; and terrestrial belonging and adaptation to hostility. This exhibition presented the results of these collaborations.
Many art science collaborations are not as co-creative as they could be. It was our intention to initiate artist-astronomer projects that question the notion that art cannot engage significantly with science beyond communication of research for public engagement.
"For scientific institutions or organisations, such collaborations are often perceived as “art in the service of science” where outcomes of art-science collaborations are primarily seen as a means to communicate difficult scientific concepts to the public. It is rare that art becomes an acknowledged, integral ingredient in producing scientific knowledge" (Kuchner, 2022).
Art and science share curiosity driven questions and both rely heavily on creativity. These connections are largely overlooked due to structural differences between the disciplines that influence artists and scientists from their education onwards. Despite their differences, both art and science are about creating and exploring new knowledge.
SPACE Lab developed a space both online and at APT that encouraged conversation, exploration and serendipity. Could an integrated approach between artists and scientists influence research practices in art and science in positive ways? Could a shared approach improve understanding and meaning making? Could scientific research questions and approaches evolve through interaction with art and artists? The collaborating artists and scientists were encouraged to focus on co-stimulating experimentation and risk taking, through empirical and quantitative analysis as well as ethical and social science inquiry. The end result was presented in a three week exhibition at APT Gallery.
Throughout the year, co-creative art-science opportunities were initiated for diverse young people from underrepresented areas of Lewisham. Astronomy can be perceived as an elitist subject that is not open to applicants from all backgrounds particularly those with less access to science. This project challenged this assumption and partnered with an exciting team of professionals to achieve this aim (see SPACE Lab workshops below).
Ulrike Kuchner and Nicola Rae, 2023.
About the Curators
Ulrike Kuchner is professionally trained and qualified in both art
and science. She is a post-doctoral astrophysicist, practicing artist,
curator and creative producer, based at the University of Nottingham.
Nicola Rae is an interdisciplinary artist and curator who also works at
University of the Arts London. Her art practice engages with scientific
processes and data. She has been based at APT Studios since 1995.
Haoyue Chen, Jingmeng Hao and Birong Wang (students from MA Curating & Collections, Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London) invigilated the exhibition during opening hours and supported events at SPACE Lab.
Click here for workshops page
Click here for discussion page