Art, Science and Biodiversity in a Summer SchoolCRAG researchers Elena Monte and Josep M. Casacuberta, together with professors from the BAU Design College of Barcelona, co-organized a 2-day workshop seeking to establish links between scientists, artists and designers
On July 23rd and 24rd, in the premises of the BAU-Design College of Barcelona, took place the Summer School of Design, Science and Diversity, a joint initiative of the CSIC researchers at CRAG Elena Monte and Josep M. Casacuberta and a team of artists and cultural researchers, lecturers at BAU.
Under the title of “Radical Interdependence,” the summer school brought together forty curious students eager to share, leave the comfort zone, and learn to look at the world in a different way. Among the students of the summer school, scientists and doctoral students from CRAG and other life sciences research institutes from Barcelona, and artists and designers, many of them master and doctoral students from BAU.
"Our goal is to foster interaction between knowledge compartments that are usually quite hermetic, to break barriers, widening the views, create room for the experimentation and encourage the innovation and the dialogue,” explains the researcher expert in plant genomics, Josep M. Casacuberta.
Two very different days
For most of the scientists, attending the summer school was quite a challenge. Before the holiday period, when closing experiments and leaving the laboratories and materials ready for the return, they stopped two days to move to another physical, and even mental, space. Upon arriving at the fantastic BAU facilities in Barcelona, participants received a white cup. In it, they had to write two or three hashtags that identified their line of research, in this way, they would get to know each other better during coffee breaks.
Jaron Rowan, cultural researcher and coordinator of BAU’s Research and Doctorate Unit, was in charge of inaugurating the School. In his introduction, he talked about how different disciplines have different views of the world that surround us: scientific images, which are intended to be created with impartiality, distance, detachment; the aesthetic look, which wants to describe the world in a subjective way explaining how objects impact people's lives; and the critical look that analyses and studies what is behind the object, the power relations. Rowan ended his talk by inviting the attendees to play to document the School in notebooks that would rotate from hand to hand, without setting limits on how and what is documented.
For two days, the participants were exposed to scientific talks −such as those of Elena Monte (CRAG) and Eduard Pla (CREAF) on the perception of light by plants and forest diversity and climate change, or those of Josep M. Casacuberta (CRAG) on genome plasticity and speciation− and to artistic and interdisciplinary workshops –such as the epistemic drawing workshop by Carla Boserman (BAU), the diversity and colour workshop by Montse Casacuberta (BAU) and Elizabeth Hénaff (New York University) or that of chaos and order by Marta Camps (BAU). The program was completed by talks by different specialists and artists such as Pilar Parcerisas (art curator) and Francisco Navarrete (visual artist), who participated in a session dedicated to the borders, Joan Riba (Head of the Spanish Antarctic base) and Alicia Kopf (artist and writer), who talked about the concept of expedition, and José Luís de Vicente (Sonar+D Commissioner), who presented several projects that combine art and science.
For Jordi Moreno-Romero, a postdoctoral researcher at CRAG, the summer school allowed him to "get to know new ways of communicating, learn new vocabularies and ways of expressing mymself."
Another participant in the school, the visual artist Agustin Ortiz Herrera, said: "A different experience, a stimulating challenge, a space to promote unexpected and urgently needed synergies. Perhaps also the beginning of some future collaborations, projects that, who knows, will make us move towards unknown but essential scenarios”
“For us, it is clear that it is worth continuing to explore these ways of communication and collaboration”, concluded Elena Monte.
The summer school received funding from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the Severo Ochoa Program of Centers of Excellence in R&D 2016-2019 (SEV-2015-0533)