Can ‘Art-Science’ provide a space for engaging with or providing relevance to traditional/artisanal/’non-western’ knowledge systems which may pave the way for greater dynamism in art-science collaboration in societies such as India?

Coordinator: Sharada Srinivasan

National Institute of Advanced Studies The art-science engagement in some non-western societies such as India has not been very wide spread (as has also been pointed out by some of the draft white papers). As part of broader attempts to contextualize the role of art-science in developing societies like India and also to explore the reasons for why this area is not thriving as much as it could be within these contexts, this paper attempts to explore the nature of engagement if any of art-science with traditional/appropriate/artisanal knowledge systems in these contexts and how that could play an invigorating role. At one level, it would not be correct to say that there has not been art-science engagement in India of a high caliber there have been some outstanding examples of which have emerged out of design schools and through contemporary artists which have consciously attempted to engage with the most cutting edge aspects of art-science. However, this paper is not concerned with that aspect in the main, but more with the situation at the other end of the spectrum which concerns not so much the realm of high-science or mainstream science and contemporary art, which that of ‘low’-science, which may include non-laboratory activities that nevertheless have a technological underpinning such as artisanal technologies, traditional knowledge systems, appropriate or rural and grassroot technologies and such like. This paper would like to explore the aspect that there are perhaps lacunaes in terms of the overall art-science debate of accommodating this aspect and perhaps such an engagement, would lead to more dynamism in developing the field of art-science. An example of such engagement that could be beneficial could be of metal working artisans interacting with students in metallurgical laboratories/classrooms, which at present is not envisaged as part of the educational system in a country which still has the largest artisanal base in the world and this paper would aim to explore whether such approaches would not have a stimulating effect in the context of art-science. At another level, perhaps the nature of modern scientific thinking has generally been such that it has not really generated much space for accomodating or living with alternate scientific and societal discourses from ‘non-western’ societies that may to some extent critique the universality or local relevance of these scientific paradigms or parameters especially from a developmental context. Thus it may be relevant to explore whether there are directions that the discourses on art-science may take which can engage with these directions as well.