The artists-in-labs program (AIL) has a long history of bringing together artists from various disciplines with scientists from diverse research institutions. These cross-border and transdisciplinary collaborations are intended to engage opportunities that expand contemporary knowledges and artistic production. The residencies often have a significant influence on the practices of the artists by contributing to PhD research, expanding networks that trigger new constellations, and encouraging collaborative ways of working. Our interview series Spaces of Difference: Discussing Art, Science and the In-Between, wanted to take a closer look at just that; Specifically, by approaching the topics of artistic practice as research, perspectives on cross-fertilization, dealing with language differences across disciplines, what it means to be in a collaboration and concluding with ideal elements for successful transdisciplinary collaborations.
Luca Forcucci is a sonic artist who has been collaborating with scientists in the field of neuroscience, perception and biology since 2008. With an MA in Sonic Arts from Queens University of Belfast and a PhD in Sonic Arts from De Montfort University, Luca was able to formalize his research in 2009 within the context of artists-in-labs residency at the Brain Mind Institute (BMI), EPFL Lausanne.
Luca’s current research notes the perceptive properties of sound, space and memory through which the possibilities of the experience can be explored by art. His work further involves the development of active collaborative exchanges through the UBQT lab and Laser Nomad.
Luca’s elements for successful collaborations: (43:10)
1. Sympathy: finding the right context where there is mutual interest within your fields
2. Language: working towards learning the language of the other as a way to know where to put your feet and understand how you can engage
3. Process: is like traveling and informs that outcome of where you are arriving.
My interview with Luca Forcucci emphasizes the importance of adding complexity to knowledge production through collaboration as well the need for a political wish to make the arts and sciences more accessible to one another. These concepts are further crystalized by the idea that the frictions between art and science enable the generation of a third thing – a space of difference.
This complexity can be created through the intersection of diverse peoples and ideas, manifesting as a process of cross fertilizing knowledges. Within this context, Luca describes the UBQT lab, a global network of artists and scientists which he has developed, as a platform that puts “all the people together, so you can grow and learn. It’s part of the process, in the process you learn by exchanging with the people and by exchanging with people from other cultures.” (17:10|18:33)
As the focus on transdisciplinarity and the intersections of art and science find their place situated largely within academia, Luca responds to the future potentials of this traversed field as first needing “a political wish to make this happen and there is […] but there are also policies that have to be created and this goes into education. Meaning, creating the instruments to make this happen with young people from school is something that should already be implemented and not something that is trendy and an art movement.” (40:45|41:05)
In this sense, he is advocating for a shift in the current educational systems in the way that young students approach artistic and scientific practices, while also pointing away from arts capacity to illustrate science.
While entering into dynamic collaborations and exchanges, language can become a quality that produces friction. From Luca’s perspective, dealing with these language differences “means first of all to be sympathetic toward the work of another […] The first thing is that you should find an interest. It seems obvious but it is very important.” (14:04|14:56)
This aspect of sympathy extends to the process of discovering the language of the other, while also accumulating knowledge about what it is that they do. Luca suggests that “once you have this you start to dive into collaboration and by doing so you see, many things start to pop up. There are the seeds and then they’re blossoming and you have the bees that come and cross pollinate and so on.”
Links to Research: