NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Editorial: Sharing common ground: Art, science and technology

By Jenny Wilson — Collaborations across arts, science and technology are growing. It appears that the more that non-arts academics become involved with artists, the more they see how art can provide deeper insight into their own disciplines.

Health care students view art to develop greater patient empathy; high schools students engage with science by considering art forgery; dance is reshaping the study of neuroscience; and artist in residence programs are becoming de rigueur in many of the world’s leading science laboratories.

Creative arts can engage public interest in scientific findings that are difficult to convey by traditional communication means, but this recognition can spawn unfortunate presumptions of how arts, science and technology should collaborate. Some view the arts as an in house science communication service with scant regard for how interdisciplinary partnerships can contribute to advances in artistic research or practice.  Here we  encounter the risk that contemporary art transforms ‘from a cultural industry to a wellness industry’ as pointed out by Ian Haig or see the ‘artist as research subject’ approach evolve into the ‘artist as lab-rat’ exemplified by Gottfried Schlaug’s study of The Brain of the Musician[i].

Fortunately, many academics are shaping multi-disciplinary collaborations with an understanding that projects need to benefit all involved. As a recent book, puts it academics are ‘recomposing art and science’[ii]

Developments in science and technology are shifting how artists themselves approach their practice. New art forms are emerging to push the boundaries of what is art, and where artists work, and digital technologies in particular are transforming ways of working. Unfortunately, not all of our systems have caught up.  Australian law has failed to fully consider the impact of digital disruption on creative practice and the ghost of CP Snow seems to continually hover over Australian Government research funding policy.

In this edition of NiTRO we touch on these issues as we explore the connectivity between art, science and technology.

Oron Catts (UWA), outlines the ethos of SymbioticA and its fascinating work that shifts public, institutional and government thinking away from the arts versus science dichotomy;

Svenja Kratz and Anita Gowers (Tasmania) highlight how SymbioticA has catalyzed a host of exciting science-art projects across the country, including an ongoing collaboration between the Tasmanian College of the Arts and QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation;

Oliver Smith (Sydney) uses specific examples to show how collaboration between arts, science and technology is providing a satisfying and successful platform for new products, artworks and ideas;

Robyn Sloggett (Melbourne) considers the elegance of mathematics and the contribution that science has brought to the art-science relationship as she notes the similarities, but also important differences between them;

Frank Millward (Newcastle) takes a poetic approach to the question of the relationship continuum that exists between science, technology and art;

Jessica Seymour (Utrecht University of Applied Sciences) looks at the changes that digital disruption have brought to the life of a creative writer;

Kim Vincs (Swinburne) explains how technology is extending the capacity for artists to contribute to broader knowledge bases through a practice based research 2.0 model.

As technology, science and arts collide, so the legal framework impinges upon the artistic work that emanates.  Fullbright Scholar Patricia Aufderheide (American University) discusses how Australian intellectual property law has failed to keep up with the advances in creative production that digital technology has facilitated and Kylie Pappalardo (QUT) reminds us of the complexities that surround artistic creation in academia with a useful primer on the key issues in this ‘messy and complex’ area.


[i] Schlaug, G. (2001). The brain of musicians. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences930(1), 281-299. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb05739.x/full

[ii] Hediger, I., & Scott, J. (Eds.). (2016). Recomposing Art and Science: artists-in-labs. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.) – https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/466945

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Make Anew

By Oliver Smith — Art and technology. Creativity and invention. Curiosity and innovation. The artist can confidently claim a preeminent

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More from this issue

By Jenny Wilson — The first edition of NiTRO went live on 30 June 2016 with a focus on the future for creative arts amidst the flurry of government research and higher education reports.
By Professor Robyn Sloggett AM — Art practice and scientific enquiry have the same fundamental epistemological requirements; a broad and deep knowledge of the context in which they operate, the ability to contest and extend existing ontologies, and through this to be able to verify propositions in order to expand knowledge.
By Professor Frank Millward — Living the dream immersed in data...
By Professor Patricia Aufderheide — Australia has one of the most restrictive copyright regimes in the world. Australian creators have fewer ways to access unlicensed copyright material than almost anywhere else.
By Professor Oron Catts — The life sciences are rapidly shifting into an engineering pursuit. This means that a new, problematic, challenging and performative palette of artistic possibilities opens up.
By Oliver Smith — Art and technology. Creativity and invention. Curiosity and innovation. The artist can confidently claim a preeminent position as a generator of new knowledge. Within the Academy the artist can play an important role in unlocking unforeseen research potential by imaginatively engaging with burgeoning technology.
By Dr Svenja J. Kratz and Anita Gowers — Since the establishment of UWA’s dedicated art and science lab SymbioticA in 2000, there has been a growing interest in fostering connections across art and science. An increasing number of academic staff and HDR students are working across the nexus of art and science at major Australian Universities including UNSW, Curtin, QUT, Monash and UTAS.
By Dr Jessica Seymour — Being a writer was always a romantic idea for me. I was a terribly antisocial child, and I liked the idea of hiding away in my bedroom for days – even months – on end and bashing away at a keyboard until a masterpiece came out. I was born in 1990, so a keyboard was part of my fantasy.
By Professor Kim VIncs — As I write, I’m in London, having spent the last day as a member of the User Board for EU Horizon 2020 project, WhoLoDance[i]. WhoLoDance is developing a motion capture data library of dance movement across the genres of ballet, contemporary dance, flamenco and Greek folk dance, and a suite of new technological tools for searching, matching, documenting, learning and sharing dance.
By Dr Kylie Pappalardo — Managing intellectual property can be challenging at the best of times, and university IP policies can add an extra layer of complexity for academics producing scholarly and creative works. This primer provides a short overview of the general legal principles likely to apply to creative arts practitioners working in the university sector.