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Signals and Apparatuses

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

On November 25 2021, the Ars Scientia research cluster hosted a symposium where thoughts and findings on art-science collaborations were shared with the academic community at UBC. As a culmination of Ars Scientia’s 6-month residency program between artists and physicists, Signals and Apparatuses was an opportunity to engage in conversations surrounding points of intersection, expansion, and discovery across two seemingly disparate disciplines that were encouraged to coalesce and collaborate.

Paired or grouped together at the beginning of May 2021, the Ars Scientia residencies intended to provide a space of deep contemplation and slow thinking between practicing artists in Vancouver and physicists at the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute and the UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy. With no expectations or guaranteed deliverables in mind, the trajectory of these partnerships took off in a multitude of directions—manifesting as spending time together in nature, looking through archives and photographs, visiting lab and studio spaces, and even producing art and data collaboratively.

The symposium was a goal post for these residencies, where the groups could come together in person to present, discuss, and further think through their 6-month partnerships and the impacts they have had on their individual practices. Justine A. Chambers, Luke Reynolds, and Sarah Morris produced a work titled “Score for a Residency,” tracing conversations and time spent together during several trips to the beach while contemplating the oftentimes challenging notion of “no deliverables.” Kelly Lycan and Kirk Madison shared their findings while sifting through hundreds of photographs, as well as drawings made after each group meeting that created a visual web of synchronized ideas. Khan Lee, Rysa Greenwood, and Alannah Hallas engaged in a conversation about how each of their individual approaches to research have been challenged by the residency, explaining how vocabulary and terminology can take on a variety of meanings rather than adhere to something absolute or singular. Josephine Lee and Daniel Korchinski concluded the residency presentations with a mini exhibition of glasswork they produced together on Granville Island, accompanied by an in-depth analysis of its process and subsequent data.

The unique nature of each presentation lent itself to the rather flexible and open parameters of the residency program from its inception. We were thrilled to see how each artist-physicist grouping navigated and structured their time together, the results of which were fruitful and insightful across various registers. We were also very grateful to have hosted a conversation between Nadia Lichtig, a participating artist in the Belkin’s Drift: Art and Dark Matter exhibition, and Rhea Gaur, a graduate student from the UBC Department of Physics, as well as opening remarks from Director of the UBC Institute for Gender, Race, and Social Justice, Denise Ferreira da Silva.

Signals and Apparatuses does not mark an end to the Ars Scientia residencies, but rather a checkpoint for projects that are ongoing. While there were many limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to continue programming and events over the next year with these artists and physicists, and to provide sustained support for further collaborative projects between the arts and the sciences.

Image credit: Paul Joseph/UBC.