I’ll now note the various other events that interested me at 4s from the perspective of an artist/researcher.
One amazing event (and almost overlooked on my part) was the “Living Darwin” project. It was amazing for me because it represented the confluence of many of my lives..it turned out to be an Augusto Boal-ian inspired questioning of Darwin through drama. And some of my colleagues from Lesley were there! I think this is a great link between the arts (plural) and STS. for more info go to the Theater Workshop in Science, Technology, and Society (TWISTS) out of Virgina Tech. It’s at http://www.twists.sts.vt.edu.
Another 2-session track which was REALLY interesting was Intra Animate! Get Your Theories Up and Running with Lively Machines! This was duo session was a great mix of qualitative research in STS, visual art, and performance. It talked about “theory making as a craft practice” thus addressing the idea (and rather low status) of both craft in the visual arts world, and applied science and technology in the sciences. In the first session, anthropologist Natasha Myers talked about “Intra-Animacy and the Lively Machines of Theory” For more info about her work, check out http://www.arts.yorku.ca/anth/nmyers/. I found Kelly Dobson’s work “Found, Lost, Made, Broken” really interesting..she talked about how she got permission to sing with machines, specifically the machines working in the tunnels of the Big Dig in Boston. Her web site is at http://web.media.mit.edu/~monster/
Check it out!
I had to leave a little after that, and visited again IntraAnimate II. This session had a presentation by Orit Halpern “Schitzoid Screens and Desiring Machines” (I just caught the end of it) but Halpern talked about histories of control in cybernetics, and the idea of neural nets, as a logical calculus of ideas immanent in nervous activity. Much of this talk came out of ideas of cognitive science and cybernetics. Heather Varnick talked about the thumb and talkes of manueverablity in the digital age..the thumb images she presented looking unquestionably like penises. she referenced autopoesis and cognition (Varela) and also Brian Massumi’s work.
Sha Xin Wei introduced the Topological Media Lab in Montreal (he is the director there) http://topologicalmedialab.net/joomla/main/index.php
and Joe Dumit talked about STS as equipment for literature, which is an interesting transition to arts and literature from STS.
The last panel I went to that I thought was awesome was one called Making Things: Artisanship, Representation, and Formalisms at the Convergence of Science and Craft. (or How Craft is Overlapping into Science Practice.) This was really interesting on a lot of levels. First was Michale Rossi’s “Catching Color: Chromatic REform in the United States 1890-1920). I found this really interesting from the perspective of how teaching color has affected art education (K-12) in the United States. He talked about how in art education in that time period,with Munsel’s system of color, color perception was tied to social order (what colors were considered “savage”) and how for him, art education wasn’t about just making pictures, it was (through its methods) making people. SOme of his palette is still used for the colors in Reeses Pieces. Rossi also talked about “Froebel’s gifts” and his methods of teaching color.
Erin O’Connor gave a talk on “The Constituitive Body: Embodiment and the Organization of work in Glassblowing” which was a really interesting participatory research project on the collaborative work of glassblowing, which used STS ideas around actor/network theory. She went a little bit too much into technical details of glassblowing, but overall this was interesting. Sophia Roosth gave a talk of “Of Forms and Formalisms:Molecular Gastronomy, Scientific Expertise, and Craft Practice”. Here’s a link to Molecular Gastronomy for more info..an effort to preserve the expertise of French haut cuisine..or passing fad?
My favorite talk was Examples, Models, Witnessing, and the Mathematical Imagination by Michael Barony. He is interested in part in the gestural part of the teaching of geometry and is working with teachers in Britain. he will be taking pictures of blackboards that math teachers use as part of his research. One person in the audience mentioned a book I might look up: The Mathematician’s Lament. I’d love to see his work develop.
In summary..a really interesting and unselfconscious mix of the arts and STS in the latter part of the conference.