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Egenis · News

Art and science in conversation



Some 50 people came along to this year’s art in the stocks, science in the dock' workshop.


, one of the events in the Festival of Social Science, saw artists, a sociologist, a plant scientist and an anthropologist, among others, look at the topic of hybridity in very different ways.

"This was the latest in our series of annual workshops, known as ‘Art in the stocks, science in the dock," explained organiser Professor Steve Hughes, of Egenis.

The workshop, at Exeter's Royal Albert Museum, had a 'drop in' format, and while some people came and went through the afternoon, many stayed for the whole event, enjoying fascinating presentations, lively debate and some beautiful art, including a sound installation created especially by local artist Paul Ramsay.

Among the speakers were independent designer and art-director Pete Jeffs, who talked about art-science books and magazines, and Dr Mitchell Travis of the University’s law department, who used science fiction to explore cultural representations of the inter-species embryo. Historian of the life sciences Dr Staffan Müller-Wille spoke about 'Hybrids in History', while photographer Susan Boafo explored ideas of self and other, classification, sorting and boundaries. Politics lecturer Robin Durie explored the evolution of artificial culture within a robot society. Sociologist spoke about hybridity and microchimerism, exploring notions of identity and individuality, and anthropologist Dr Katharine Tyler’s talk added to our understanding of the debate about race as a social or biological construct.

"With the stocks and docks series we aim to break down some of the barriers between disciplines and to de-mystify some academic and artistic endeavour," said Professor Hughes. "We bring together artists, scientists and social scientists to share practice, to discuss the way science is represented in art, the ways in which art draws on science for inspiration, and how each explores and makes sense of our culture, communities and the natural world.

"As one speaker put it, hybridity is the way that newness enters the world, and at this event all of us learned something new and found new ways of looking and of understanding."