Oika breaks transactional models to call on science and art to fulfill a much larger role of reshaping human self-perception. The essential element of this approach is art revealing a scientific reality that connects humanity to nature. In other words, when art feels what science reveals the world heals.
Our goal is to cultivate a culture with more oika (aka ecological intelligence). When this work involves a collaboration between art and science (ArtSci), our approach can be visualized as a set of expanding and serially-inclusive circles of concern.
The innermost circle represents the usual aspiration for ArtSci collaboration. In this case artists are enlisted to visualize scientific data in an aesthetic and approachable way. This is sometimes more usefully framed as “making scientific knowledge accessible.”
The next larger circle contains and expands on the first circle and adds the goal of training the next generation of a STEAM workforce. In this case, ArtSci educates young people to be successful innovators and creators of technology in order to, ideally, solve contemporary human problems.
The next larger circle further builds and expands the utility of ArtSci collaboration into communicating the societal value of scientific epistemology as a basis for collective decision-making. In other words, science uses art to instill curiosity, wonder, exploration and the critical thinking skills that are so needed today. This is generally consistent with the agenda of Science and Technology Studies (STS).
The next larger circle includes ArtSci collaborations wherein the generation of scientific knowledge is part of the goal. In this scenario, the artist (art) participates in the scientific process. For example, the art(ist) may help formulate research questions and contribute ideas to experimental design. This type of collaboration is most consistent with the Broto Collaboration Blueprint.
The penultimate circle of concern is art that communicates what the process of scientific discovery feels like. This role integrates more subtle and sophisticated dimensions of affect such as curiosity, discovery, the satisfaction of intellectual coherence and confidence.
We consider all of these collaboration scenarios to be noble and necessary. Yet, we are compelled to acknowledge that they all lack the capacity to resolve humanity's most pressing existential crises, which are specifically psychological and universally ecological.
So at this point in the diagram we reach what I call a "sublimation layer". This "gap" represents a distinct phase shift in the communicative role of art as the output of Art-Sci collaboration.
Oika’s framework of ArtSci operates in a proposed outermost, unbounded sphere that includes all of the inner circles but then expands the contribution of the artist into a new, interpretive capacity. The highest aspiration in this collaborative mode is informed, artistic reinterpretation of scientific knowledge. This constitutes a wholly new, hermeneutical turn for the Arts.
In the Oika framework, the artist educates herself in the relevant science of the research and spends substantial time immersed in the field in order to gain essential conceptual and phenomenological understanding. Similarly, we expect the scientist to add new insights and cultural dimensions to their work. By maintaining a mutual respect and commitment to deep, ecological continuity, as articulated in the Oika curriculum, profound new insights can be generated and communicated.
The goal with ArtSci collaboration is to synergistically engage rigorous, scientific knowledge and highly creative artistic production in ways that can shift human self-perception (and identity) toward a more Earthcentic culture. We believe this approach is adequately novel, bold, provocative and uniquely commensurate with the challenges of our time.
See larger image below