INTERACTIONS AMONG SCIENTISTS/ENGINEERS AND ARTISTS/DESIGNERS AS A MEANS OF ENCOURAGING UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES ON TODAY’S CHALLENGES

Coordinator:
D.L. Marrin, Ph.D. (scientist)
Water Sciences & Insights, USA and Fundación Somos Agua, México

Advisors/Collaborators:
Mara Haseltine (professor); Geotherapy Art Institute, USA
Pamela Longobardi (artist); Georgia State University, USA
Carlos Mora (filmmaker); Fundación Somos Agua, México
Gregory Shinn (designer); GRS Landscape Architects, USA

The technical and societal challenges we face at the dawn of the 21st century will likely require not only the continued development of 20th century technologies, strategies, and educational approaches, but also more fundamental shifts in the way that we perceive and relate to our world. Many of the significant breakthroughs in the arts, sciences, and design fields have arisen, not from modifications of standard or existing views, but from fundamentally different ways of perceiving the world—whether through the senses or the intellect. Artists/designers and scientists/engineers are uniquely positioned via their respective training and creativities to view the world in different, but complementary, ways. A virtual symposium held in November 2011 brought together people from diverse fields working with water, which is perhaps today’s most critical resource.1 Interactions and presentations highlighted both opportunities and challenges, which included [1] developing a common language (verbal or otherwise) for communicating across disciplines, [2] utilizing art or artistic portrayals (e.g., fractals, flow forms) to describe or investigate nature, and [3] incorporating scientific perspectives into the creations of artists and designers who reach people in innovative ways and devise practical systems and structures.
This proposed white paper will explore art and design as a means of expanding the ways in which scientists and engineers describe and investigate the world, as well as the ways in which scientific perceptions influence the portrayals of and designs for the world. Water and water-related issues have proven to be a useful in this regard because they are common to so many diverse disciplines. The goal of sharing interdisciplinary perceptions to reveal more effective ways of approaching or representing our challenges will necessarily face the hurdle of effective communication among practitioners. The jargon, mathematics, and views of science/engineering must somehow mesh with or connect to or the images, sounds, or forms art/design in order to enable productive interactions and the transfer or melding of perspectives. Patterns, rhythms, and geometries are common to the work of both groups and may represent a productive avenue for bridging the language difference. A number of different options for addressing language and communication obstacles will be considered.

1 International Symposium on Aqua Science, Water Resources and the Arts (3-5 November 2011), D.L. Marrin, Organizer. http://www.isaswr.com