Book recommendations

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As most of us currently find themselves with some time on their hands Nina Horstmann, one of the Hybrid Plattforms coordinators, wants to share some book recommendations that provide a good base for anybody working on art-science projects in an academic research context.

Just recently Claudia Schnugg published the book “Creating Artscience Collaboration. Bringing Value to Organziations” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). It is one of the first books that I know of which focusses on contemporary examples of art-science collaborations, describing the projects and their success. The author focuses on the opportunities that such collaborations offer not only to the artist but also to the scientists. One project presented is by one of the pioneers of bioart, Oron Catts, and highlights how scientific research was taken one step further by the artist. He used excess muscle cells that started filling up the fridges of the research institute to start growing meat. Having successfully created artificially grown organic matter ready for consumption, new scientific questions came up, ethical inquiries were made, and entrepreneurial potential was discovered. Claudia Schnugg shows how these kinds of collaborations can lead to a new perception of their own work, and to creative and critical thinking. She provides insight into the opportunities the art-science exchange provides as new fields and people with different communication habits get connected. Further topics include sensemaking, learning processes and ways of seeing. However, most interesting to me was the final chapter, “Creating and Framing Opportunities for ArtScience Collaboration”. Here the conditions required are assessed alongside those structures and expectations that might possibly be hampering successful outcomes. In particular the last ten pages should be read by anybody wanting to set up an art-science project within a research institution. Many points resonated with me, even though there were a few things which I felt are missing, in particular ideas around how to manage such projects.

Pursuing the question of how to best manage research projects that go beyond a mono-disciplinary approach, I can very much recommend the book “Forschungsverbundmanagement. Handbuch für die Gestaltung inter- und transdisziplinärer Projekte“ by Rico Deflia, Antoinetta Di Giulio and Michael Scheuermann (vdf Hochschulverlag, 2006). Here the focus lies on the process of managing transdisciplinary projects through all their phases, from inception and delivery up to their evaluation. It is less of an academic review of the challenges and opportunities at hand but a helpful guide on how to get from one stage to the next. Examples of projects help to illustrate certain issues, and concrete suggestions on how to deal with these provide excellent help for anybody having to manage complex inter- or transdisciplinary projects. There is no mentioning of art, and sadly the book is only available in German, but these are the only slight let-downs of this excellent work. As additional reading on this subject I recommend the article„Management von transdisziplinären Forschungsprojekten im Spannungsfeld von Rollenflexibilität, Aufgabenvielfalt und mehrdimensionalen Kompetenzanforderunge“ by Larissa Krainer and Ruth Lerchster (Forschung, 2015/08/20, p 89 – 99). It provides a good idea of the skills required in order to fulfil the role as a manager of research projects.

If you are more interested in getting your teeth into the academic discussions on how collaborations between disciplines as well as between art and science and in an transdisciplinary context can work you might want to look at the book The Power of Distributed Perspectives”, edited by Günther Abel and Martina Plümacher (De Gruyter, 2016). Here, a wide range of authors consider how collaborations can provide the foundation for innovation. My personal advice: Make sure to read the article on New Dynamics through Cooperation – the Hybrid Platform as an Inter- and Transdisciplinary Conceptual and Research Space” by Julia Warmers und Christoph Gengnagel (p 137–172). Yet again only available in German but interesting nevertheless is the book Kunstforschung als ästhetische Wissenschaft. Beiträge zur transdisziplinären Hybridisierung von Wissenschaft und Kunst“, edited by Martin Tröndle and Julia Warmers (Transcript, 2012). Again, a range of authors tackle the question of how the exchange beyond disciplines, in particular between arts and sciences, can work.

Just before the world stopped spinning due to the Covid-19 situation, I had ordered two books which sadly didn’t arrive in time for me to take them home with me. However, they are also available as e-books so I might tackle them after all. One is a collection edited by Camilla Rossi-Linnemann and Giulia de Martini on “Art in Science Museums. Towards a Post-Disciplinary Approach”(Routledge, 2020). This publication includes articles by both Bergit Arends and Ken Arnolds, who were participants of our expert panel whose conversation is published in the booklet on Hybrid Encounters in the arts and sciences. A dialogue.” (Hybrid Plattform, Schering Stiftung, 2019). The other book on my list is by the editors Wolfgang Merten and Thorsten Knoll: „Handbuch Wissenschaftsmarketing. Konzepte, Instrumente, Praxisbeispiele“(Springer Gabler, 2019). Here for me the interesting question is how cross-disciplinary collaborations can, additionally to any other value they might provide, foster means of communicating science beyond the scientific community. I can’t wait to get my hands on those two books…

Last but not least, an article I wrote on the work of the Hybrid Plattform should be published soon in the free online journal k/w – Between art and science”. Until it’s available, which should be probably in April, feel free to browse the many worthwhile articles already on their site.

And if you have any additional recommendations please let me know via the Hybrid Plattform Facebook or Instagram account. Thanks – and happy reading!

- Nina