Thursday, March 8, 2007

Carnie: a question about audience....

From: ANDREW CARNIE
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2007 12:04:38 -0000

[response to Heiferman's post http://visualcultureandbioscience.blogspot.com/2007/03/heiferman-question-about-audience.html]
I think there are potentially big audiences for this type of work, pieces generated by science art collaborations, but one of the issues is the strangle hold commercial galleries have to an extent over public galleries. There is a great deal of pressure on spaces to show artists with track records and commercial success. The ‘product’ rules in commercial spaces and private gallerists use public spaces to promote and legitimise artists they represent. This I believe holds back art which is in a sense research led, radical , is to big to sell or is in someway difficult to appreciate. Little of my own work has been shown in art galleries, I have however shown in the Science Museum London, the Design Museum Zurich, the Amnesty International Headquarters, London, the School of Tropical Medicine, London, the Natural History Museum, Rotterdam etc. These venues do provide large appreciative alternative audiences. The Wellcome Trust in London has done quite a lot to remedy this with it’s past showing space within the science museum and will do so more with its new gallery spaces to be opening over this summer in the Euston Road, London. The new drive for research in the arts in British Universities through the Arts and Humanities Research Council has also allowed more challenging work to be produced beyond commercial pressures, but showing such work is still difficult.

Andrew Carnie
Artist and Lecturer
Winchester School of Art
Southampton University

images: Andrew Carnie, from the slide dissolve installation Magic Forest shown at the science museum london, projected onto three gauze screens from a projector on each side, 2002.

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4 comments:

rmalina said...

I have been following with interest the discussion, as it is an area that our organisation Leonardo/ISAST has been very involved in.

I would like to raise an issue about the culture context within which the visual culture of bio science is viewed.

Investement in bioscience is very unevenly distributed among different cultures in the world- and most of the discussion comes from people in countries that have large biotech industries, where there is a general level of scientific literary and for whom the benefits of bio science are well articulated and supported. North America and Western Europe are generally "technophillic" cultures.

Leonardo is involved in a network called YASMIN around the mediterranean region. Most of the countries in this region are not heavily invested in bio science= are not generators of sustantial new science and bio tech. And the benefits of bioscience are very unevenly distributed.

I myself work as a scientist (astrophysics) and visual culture is deeply tied at the joint to the science I do. We use visual expression to communicate our science to each other as scientists and to the larger public. I am technophillic in this context.

Yet it is clear the society we are building using the best technoscience available is unsustainable- and it is not clear that our political systems can respond on the time scales necessary.

As we develop the visual culture around the biosciences how do we integrate different contextual perspectives and questionings. Existing networks have the natural tendency to reinforce existing or dominant visual culture. How does visual culture around the biosciences contribute to building metaphors, imaginaries of a sustainable culture on this planet. I think this is a problem.

Roger Malina

Andrew Carnie said...

Dear Roger Malina

Many thanks for your comments. I thought them very relevant and important.

It is easy to get so involved in what is in a sense a position of privilege and not look at the wider issues of equality and fairness and current planetary concerns. I think this is often easy to do when you are an artist and find it difficult to make the work one is making at anyone time, because of financial constraints etc. Life is often very much hand to mouth for artists. Yet as you say it is much more difficult for others in other regions to participate. My involvement in environmental issues has always been strong, maybe more so in the past when and before I was studying zoology, and when I was a lad spending lots of time out in the countryside.

One possibility to begin to solve some of the ongoing issues is to set up courses within arts institutions which look at these dimensions. I would like to see a degree course in sustainable arts, where the principal was to make effective, say, visual art but with a minimal environmental impact. I think this would be effective, interesting and challenging, especially if the subject mater were itself sustainability. As a topic itself it is a subject I have not entertained, but might in the future.

Much of my work is done within the context of a University and certainly I think we should build networks of production and consumption free of some of the real world constraints within these academic institutions, for the arts and other disciplines. However the trend has been to consider financial implications more and more within such places, reflecting the same old dominant cultures.

I would like to think more on this topic you have introduced.

Andrew Carnie
Artist and Lecturer
Winchester School of Art
Southampton University
Park Road
Winchester SO23 8SD
England

Website www.andrewcarnie.co.uk
andrewcarnie@tram.ndo.co.uk

rmalina said...

Andrew

Thanks for your response to my post re the concern about the larger context of building sustainable societies= but also the problem of lack of dialogue with people who live in cultures that are not strong producers of new bio technoscience, and where the benefits of bioscience are very unevenly evident.

Yes I think that the transformation of our societies needed to address sustainability ( and social justice) are so profound that art schools as well as science education must address these in the very structuring of the curriculum.

A related comment is that the bio sciences cover a vast range of
specialties= but much of the art and biology discussion tends to focus on genetic engineering. Many artists however work in the context of ecology, the environmental sciences and now of course climate change= these all include bioscience issues. Surely ecplogy is a key science for artistic intervention.

roger malina

Andrew Carnie said...

Andrew Carnie

Reply to Dolores Hangan Steinman said...


I agree with you we are in a sense on some extraordinary adventure in science and art. What we see through science in terms of visuals is astonishing and opens up a new world, it certainly doesn’t seem reductionist to me in any way. As an artist I try to ask questions through my work and try to get the audience to reflect on the science, but looking at the work is not dependent on an understanding of the science. The experience is still to be appreciated what ever the background of the viewer.

I appreciate what you say about the work that goes in to image production by the scientists on their images. My work it seems just moves their work on in different and I hope at times dramatic way, I hope it to be anchored by some conceptual idea that I am trying to convey. The time based element of my work is good at drawing in an audience with the ability to change their perception of what they are looking at as the work progresses.

This forum seems to have been a good chance to share ideas and images I appreciate you comments about the works you mention. I make as many works which are not about science ideas as science ideas. This I hope rejuvenates the work each time.

Andrew Carnie
Artist and Lecturer
Winchester School of Art
Southampton University
Park Road
Winchester SO23 8SD
England

Website www.andrewcarnie.co.uk
andrewcarnie@tram.ndo.co.uk