Concepts and Communications: the take aways

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“I guess the question is not so much: “how do I understand your art” but rather “can you help me appreciate your art?”

Last Tuesday, we invited Russ Hodge, science communicator at the Max-Delbrück Centrum Berlin, to give a talk on his models and understanding of how to transfer scientific knowledge. In his career, which began with studying linguistics, he developed a model for a common barrier to communication: Ghosts haunt our thinking when we think within a field.

That is, many barriers exist between two people with different backgrounds in their assumptions of what the other might know – and these assumptions are constraining their own ability to think outside their own box.

We learned a lot, individually and as an audience in a rolling discussion afterwards, which lasted for 3 hours that felt like 30 minutes! Eventually, the sky outside was dark, but the room still buzzed and talking points were sharp as tacks.

Along the way, we honed in on concepts in linguistics, art theory, science, and communication. We realised that the benefits of communicating in new ways include thinking in new ways.

We successfully agreed on common terms and definitions, and moved onward and inward into the core of the matter: what are the differences between art and science that emerge from their intentions, their agendas, and their content?

How do we bridge gaps between two fields that can be so similar, yet so opposing, depending on which incarnation of art or science we encounter?

How can we come up with schemes and strategies for engaging with and conceptualizing art or science, when they are individually and together varied, complex, and faceted? 

A few take home messages emerged, presented here as quotes (paraphrased from memory):

“What is quite different about science and art is that science tries to bring knowledge to a point – to achieve an incremental increase in our understanding or conceptualisation of the world – and in doing so pushes the edge of what we ‘know’ further forward. Art, on the other hand, often lives in, and points to, exactly that edge of knowledge, and can be ambiguous and non-understandable on purpose. They share commonalities in their experimental methods, and their drive toward innovation and new experiences, but have a different approach to what the end goal might be.”

“While science has a self-defined identity, in the scientific method, the artistic method is totally variable. Many artworks in fact can be accidental, or have totally different meaning to the artist and the observer. In art there isn’t necessarily the intent or even possibility of transferring direct knowledge or concepts, whereas in science and science communication, that’s the goal.”

Russ’ talk was packed with insight and inspiration, and laid out with clear examples of what might prevent us from communicating, and in doing so, prevent us from thinking clearly. 

For anyone who’s thought or tried to transmit concepts (as we defined communication as), or wonders why they can’t understand some scientific writing, we highly recommend reading his blog articles at:

https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/ghosts-models-and-meaning/

And more on him at:

https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/about/

 

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Creativity and Neuroscience: Concepts & Communication

For the second workshop and meetup in the Creativity and Neuroscience series we delve into creative methods to communicate our often specific stories and concepts.

The evening will consist of 2 parts:
1) Russel Hodge, science communicator will give a talk on:
“How to see a ghost, think like a molecule, and communicate science.”
2) Our social speed-meeting the neurosci-art community to encourage collaboration!

Location: >top, Schillerpromenade 4, 12049 Berlin, Germany
May 28, 2019, Tuesday 6-9pm


Russ Hodge

In over two decades as a science writer, Russ Hodge has witnessed “the good, the bad, and the completely ridiculous” sides of science and its practitioners. Besides being a diplomat trying to negotiate new boundaries between science, humor, and art, Russ is one of Europe’s most respected science communicators and teachers. In 1997 he was plucked from a peaceful existence as a writer and musician to launch the Office of Information and Public Affairs at EMBL, helping shape it into one of the most respected centers of public outreach for molecular biology in the world. He currently works as science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. He has written thousands of articles, dozens of journalistic reports for institutes across Europe, and published 8 books on science. He is a co-author on 7 original scientific papers, has written highly successful international grants, and most recently written and illustrated a children’s book on evolution. Alongside humorous pieces on his blog, he is carrying out important work on the theory, practice and didactics of science communication.

His blog can be found at www.goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com.

The most crucial entries for EDGE concern his novel concept of “ghosts”: https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/a-dialog-on-ghosts-and-models-in-science/

and a more in-depth look at:
https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/ghosts-models-and-meaning/

and be sure to check out his “Molecular biology cartoons” series:
https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/category/molecular-biology-cartoons/
and his “Trump” series:
https://goodsciencewriting.wordpress.com/category/trump/


>TOP

We are very excited that >top, where we had our first exhibition last summer, is having us back for our workshop this month!!

An association for the Promotion of Cultural Practice, >top has been operating in Berlin since June 2002. Our members are artists, researchers and activists, whose activities range from individual research to curating project space to international collaboration. Our infrastructure supports projects that pursue an interdisciplinary approach, support international exchange or deal with non-commercial attitudes. This includes, but is not limited to, a project space, a biolab, and a web server.

http://www.top-ev.de/about/

Minds & Microscopes: creativity and neuroscience workshop and meetup

Join us for our first workshop-style evening delving further into creativity in neuroscience and neuroscience in art

We kick off at 6 pm with Craig Garner speaking about creativity in neuroscience.
Afterwards, we will have a speedy date session to pick the brains of our sci-artist friends and connect this awesome community further. Last but not least, you get to build your own microscope during our DIY microscope workshop hosted at Planet Flow.

As a professor at Charité in Berlin, a research group leader at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, and the co-founder and coordinator (with U. Dirnagl) of SPARK-Berlin, Craig Garner is a fine example of a neurosci- artist. This evening, he will spark some inspiration on the importance of being creative as a neuroscientist as he talks about how creativity influences his work as a scientist, and how being a scientist influences his art.

DIY microscope workshop
Everyone is a scientist, everyone is an artist. Today we remember we can be both at the same time, as we are lead through an amazing workshop building DIY digital microscope for our own discovery joys. All under 10€ -for materials and everything whaaat!
“The underlying beauty of this “hack” is the hidden citizen science philosophy – science shouldn’t be exclusive and hidden in laboratories and away from people. It is information about life, about us, and so it belongs to us.”
-Julia, workshop host

About Planet Flow:
A co-working space and no stranger to the arts, they are a community which loves culture and knowledge expansion. Into mixing up well being and business.
They will kindly keep their Kaffeehaus open during the event.
address: Blockdammweg 1, 10317 Berlin

Free entry -donations welcome 🙂

show up and if you can let us know that you are coming, you can do so in so many ways!
leave a reply below! or on our other social media platforms:
or shoot us an email at info@edge-neuro.art

Apply for EDGE 2019

CALL FOR SCI-ARTISTS

2019 multimedia exhibition submission

EDGE is calling to neuroscientists, artists, designers, inventors, and more to apply to participate in the Berlin multimedia exhibition. Whether incidental or decisive, art in neuroscience is a tool for educating and inspiring, communicating and sharing, for artists and neuroscientists alike. The Berlin multimedia exhibition opening at the end of July will be a celebration of creativity in the science of the brain. Everyone is invited to apply to exhibit, previous experience is not required, see below for application requirements.

Proposal deadline: 14th April, 2019

Extended deadline: 28th April, 2019

Exhibition dates: 18th-21st July, 2019

Location: Inner city Berlin- TBC

More about EDGE

EDGE is a community focused on collaborative, interactive, and creative science communication, celebrating art as a way to educate and share ideas. We recognize the  beauty of neuroscience and the importance of expression of it for its own sake.

To learn more about EDGE, visit our about page.

Features of the EDGE community

Makers and curious participants are invited to become part of our vibrant community of neuroscientists, artists, designers, inventors, and more! Benefits to applicants include budget, a showcase of pieces in a high profile location, access to a vibrant community, and workshops.

Leading up to the exhibition there will be events for the EDGE community where members can meet others from fields of science and/or art, regardless if their pieces were selected or not.  This is an opportunity to workshop ideas and techniques while developing collaborative relationships. By connecting participants from different backgrounds, we foster an understanding of current scientific knowledge and methods to non-experts, and the development of creative means of communication to anyone inexperienced in exhibiting art.

Just as in last years exhibition, there will be a ‘meet the neurosci-artist’ day where artists are encouraged to give a talk about their materials, methods, and motivation for the public.

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Application Requirements:

All materials must be included in a single PDF file (maximum 5 mb) and sent to info@edge-neuro.art by April 14th, 23:59 (extended to April 28th, 23:59), and it can be in English or German. Please name the file as follows: Last name, underscore, proposal and year. For example: LASTNAME_proposal2019.pdf 

The document should contain two sections;

1) Applicant information

If you are applying in a group, please mention contact details of at least one person.

  • Name
  • Email
  • Address
  • Institution, department
  • Previous relevant work- If applicable, either art and/or science

2)  Concept

Artwork should communicate about neuroscientific knowledge/research/ community or process to be considered in the exhibition. Please describe the concept, as well as the following;

  • Artwork title
  • Methods/materials/dimensions
  • Budget- TBC, we are aiming to provide a budget per artist/group. Please provide a timeline and be as detailed as possible, including max/min budget for specific materials/resources.
  • Statement- What will your piece communicate in- and outside of the scientific and/or artistic community

Applications should be sent to info@edge-neuro.art

We aim to have all proposals reviewed, and a decision reached on the pieces selected for the exhibition on April 30th. 

If you have an idea, but require further support from other fields, please indicate this in your statement and we can connect you with people who could offer support either personally, or during one of our workshops.

We look forward to receiving your applications!

For further questions please contact info@edge-neuro.art

 


Additional FAQ

Is there an application or exhibition entry fee?

Just like our previous exhibition, there will be no application fee and no exhibition fee, we believe creativity in science should be communicated free for all.

Can I sell my work?

Yes

Will there be support for presentation materials?

Support for presentation and media is not guaranteed but we will help with sourcing requirements as early as possible if the application is submitted early.

Will you provide insurance?

EDGE will not assume liability for any damaged artworks.

Does it have to be about neuroscience?

This is our focus, but drop us a line if you are unsure if your topic fits, or if you would like to get into contact with other neurosci-artists for inspiration!

For any further questions contact info@edge-neuro.art 

Beginning blurring the borders- Edge’s first exhibition summer 2018

Text published in the CNS newsletter in December 2018.

The multimedia art exhibition, which featured works from students of the Medical Neurosciences program at the Charité, Max Delbrück centrum Berlin, and fantastic collaborators, was displayed for 3 days at >topLab in Neukölln. There was electricity in the air that mid-July Monday. Those who had braved the sweltering heat of the u-Bahn, certainly did so in some numbers! from 7 until 10 it was not unusual to see up to 80 people at any one time milling amongst the colorful pieces…

“Are those the real colors?”
As you walked into the ground floor gallery and its basement (if you could squeeze in through the crowd congregating outside), a broad variety of works were displayed: photography, watercolor and oil paintings, multimedia projections, a soundscape, a hologram, graphite sketches, light-boxes, and more. Scientific themes were evident
in the pieces, with microscopy images, magnified blowups of biological tissue and lab equipment – but there were also many important personal and human elements in the art. Many depicted friends and colleagues at work, while others showed the human side of clinical neuroscience, highlighting mental disorders. In this way, visitors explored what the artists had to say about neuroscience as a whole field. Why did they do research? What was it like? Who were they? What did they find beautiful about it?

“Did you have a theme in mind?”
Our intention was to communicate scientific knowledge, provide insight into the scientific experimental process, and humanize and individualize researchers in the eye of the public, using art as an alternative communication medium. The intense and thoughtful discussions that could be overheard at any moment were fueled by artwork, and passion (and perhaps the delicious beverages from the bar). Collaborations sprouted from inspired individuals becoming a community. The feeling of connection was palpable and electric.

“The curating must have taken ages!”
Astoundingly, the pieces curated themselves, little direction was given to the sci-artists, and they delivered the most varied, stunning pieces. The layout lent itself to a comfortable clockwise stroll around the works: For example, there was Sharhyar Khorasani’s surrealist wall of sketches. These were often revisited by attendees, and every time, a new theme could be discovered in these intricate and absurd works. People were also invited to descend into the cellar, where we had incorporated the feeling of closeness to create an inviting full sensory experience. The dark certainly complemented the other-worldliness of the fly brain hologram project by Hamish Logan and Tatiana Lupashina. A regular queue of curious attendees awaited to enter a nook tucked away. One by one, you could have a triggering and nearly claustrophobic, 3D sound experience in the “Panic Room” created by Robyn Cunningham and Ben Wegert.

For two nights, the exhibition opened with a performance piece called Nomen Nescio, in which dancers and scientists collaborated to immerse the audience into the experience of hallucinatory psychosis. On the last night, a “meet the artist” round was held; each scientist had a chance to share their intentions, motives, and materials behind their individual works. The audience heard specifics of the process and thought involved behind each piece, which were imbued with details of intent and personal connection.

“Why >topLab?”
Our venue, >topLab has been attracting attention before all the works in our exhibition were put up. This beautiful Altbau gallery is not only much loved in the biohacking community, but is also frequented co-working space and local hub for citizen science, regularly hosting workshops of all fl avours. Check out their website (top-ev.de) for more events ranging from physics in music to post-humanist reading groups. It’s never a dull week there!

Thank you to the ECN and BCCN for their generous contributions to our printing and production costs, Tante Frizzante for the scrumptious drinks provided, to the artists for their hard work and dedication, to >topLab for their patience and welcome, and to all our guests! From us, the organizers of EDGE, thank you to all of those who came to support this event that aimed to tear down the walls we build between art and  neuroscience! We are working on making the exhibition a yearly event, and will soon be making a call-out for interested artists to participate in the next iteration!

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