Why Art@FSMLs?

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Our thoughts and experiences might be useful.

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But why even go there at all? We are just supposed to do science, right?

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The example of DMFS is illuminating. Like many of us, DMFS was hitting it out of the park on science metrics.

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And yet, it no longer exists.

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If science metrics can’t save us, what can? Most of us are associated with a university and our mission statement actually calls for “Public Service”, which is poorly defined. At Sagehen, we began thinking that we should be focusing more on this area after some community members expressed disinterest in our science program years ago.

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Then this happened. After patting us on the back for fighting on the front lines of climate change, they beat us up for dropping the ball... It’s a tricky challenge. Scientists can be passionate people, but by definition, science can’t be emotional: the data has to speak for itself. Follow-up pubs by the lead author specifically ID art as a good way to bridge the gap—working with and creating emotion is what art does. And the empathy it creates also protects our facilites!

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So, aside from the National Academy calling us idiots, what else is wrong with focusing exclusively on the science? These are old stats, but I was too lazy to re-derive them, and they probably haven’t changed much. Even if science employment tripled since 1999 it’s still miniscule. By only looking to professional scientists and engineers, we neglect the creative capacity of 96.5% of the population. The socio-ecological problems of the 21st century are massive and unprecedented; we need everyone’s eyes on this, and science is alienating the public. But, can non-scientists solve problems?

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Yes! Science was invented by Ibn al-Haytham in the 10th century, and expanded by other Muslim scholars and Renaissance philosophers into the 14th century. Yet prior to that, people managed to invent all kinds of useful things we typically think of as scientific and technical, including all 6 simple machines that harness mechanical advantage and are the building blocks of every other mechanical machine in existence today. Pre-scientific people invented crop and livestock domestication (the seeds that became genetics), as well as complex textiles, and chemical reactions like gunpowder, fermentation, dye and cement. We invented symbolic abstractions like alphabets and mathematics, money and banking, and calculating machines to manage them. Pre-scientific people figured out the architectural principles of the arch and vault, plumbing and long-distance water delivery. They harnessed the power of moving water and air to the waterwheel and sailboat. When science finally appeared on the scene, we already had universities, surgery, metallurgy, and optical glass. Science has been even more successful than that, but that success is clouding our perception of its true nature. Science is not the root of human creativity. It is a powerful way to test assumptions and hunches, then bend them to useful application…how ridiculous to say, “I’m going to use the scientific method to come up with what interests me”. You come to science with a question that needs answering.

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Before we go any further… Outreach & Illustration: these fall under broader impacts, and are very useful.

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Two examples from Sagehen… Invisible Barn: engages people in thinking about their relationship to the environment, and to forest issues we are working on at Sagehen. Example: their overwhelming concern about potential bird strikes on IB, vs. their failure to comment on the impacts of other facility buildings in the forest, ever. Because it’s art, IB makes people think differently: it’s a magnifying glass for thought. Saving The West: artists promoting our Sagehen Forest Project prescriptions to politicians in order to alter public policy.

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Again, when I say “art”, I mean arts and humanities: visual arts, music, poetry, prose, dance, etc. Harvard’s Project Zero uses the arts to investigate the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural thinking, and ethics.  Business theory offers us the Knowledge Transfer Cycle, which models cognitive science’s observation that stories are one of the best ways to store and transmit knowledge. This has been practiced for (at least) tens of thousands of years to transmit critical cultural knowledge and survival techniques. Aboriginal peoples in Australia are the keepers of the oldest stories and the oldest story systems in the world. Hidden within Aboriginal myths are details of geological events from 10,000 years ago. Aboriginal story systems and song-lines overlap with visual art. “Stories are given to Aboriginal peoples from the Dreaming, everything comes into being through story, and the Dreaming is the ancestors.” – Grant Revell and Jill Milroy

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And it’s not a small effect…

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Belbruno is also an abstract expressionist who paints things like microwaves and solutions to three-body problems to help him come to technical solutions. For instance, this painting led him to a breakthrough that was a new way to use gravity to power spacecraft, a controversial proposal at the time that nearly killed his career, and which is now the standard method.

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…even when the scientist is not the artist. Images. MC Escher tesselation patterns > 3D DNA folding; Jacquard loom > first programmable device and made the first digital image; Lace-making > surgical sutures; Pointilist dots > TV screens; Origami > cardiac stents; “Interstellar” CGI tools > now studying cosmology

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Researchers recently discovered mathematically-correct depictions of turbulent forms in this artwork that weren’t described scientifically until many years later.

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Aristotle developed logic as an objective way of figuring out the validity of arguments. Centuries later, George Boole was a largely self-taught mathematician with a strong liberal arts background who developed the peculiar mathematical field of algebraic logic as a way to extend and formalize Aristotelian logic. No one thought this oddity had any real world application until many decades later when Claude Shannon took a philosophy class at U-Michigan, and realized that this Boolean algebra could establish a working model for digital circuits. His insight produced what is known as “The Most Important Master's Thesis of the Century". The work led to the development of Information Theory, which profoundly influenced—and continues to influence--fields as diverse as philosophy, physics and biology; and it resulted in the telecommunications and computer industries. Pick up a random citizen by the ankles and shake hard. Half a dozen integrated circuits clatter out onto the pavement: smart-phone, car-key fob, USB thumb drive, memory card, watch, camera, GPS, ear-buds, hearing aids… It is no exaggeration to say that the towering edifice of modern civilization is constructed on a foundation of the Humanities. I Photoshopped the pocket protector to make the point that there was nothing “New Age-y” about Dr. Shannon: he was the uber-geek, the scientist’s scientist. You don’t have to be a hippy to recognize the value of, and benefit from, the arts.

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So, what’s different about artists? Don’t you have to be special to be an artist? Here’s the deal: perception is not static. Our brain continuously compares the information that comes in through the senses with what it expects on the basis of what we already know about the world. The final result of this comparison process is what we eventually experience as reality.

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Therefore, adding the perspective of art to that of science at field research sites offers the possibility of actually seeing new things, and offering new perspectives on old problems. It enhances basic discovery. How many of you saw that coming: a mural on the water? [Artist, Ray Bartkus. Marijampolė, Lithuania]

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Let’s talk about that difference between the artistic scientists and others. Chances are, you aren’t an artist, and when I asked you to draw your neighbor, it came out something like this…symbols, not what we might really see if we knew how to look. Like the alphabet that represents sounds, it doesn’t actually reproduce them. Out of context, these symbols mean nothing: red banana, seed, crescent moon; polar bear; spider, or UFO mechanic. Those of us who are not artists impose our symbolic vision on reality, limiting our ability to actually see what’s out there and find real patterns.

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Artists are trained to not do that…and it’s not just vision.

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Lots of evidence in support of the idea that perception is plastic and determined by experience. What you see depends on what you bring to the party. Demonstration.

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Show for a few seconds, then switch groups with next image

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Everybody: Male or female?

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FSMLs are a natural place for true art/science synthesis in the service of basic discovery, since we have always been great at “creative abrasion”: throwing scientists together at the dinner table and bunkhouse to get to serendipitous discovery and interdisciplinary collaboration.

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There are existing models. MIT, Leonardo, CERN…The journal Leonardo was founded in 1968 in Paris by kinetic artist and astronautical pioneer Frank Malina. Field science is behind the curve on this.

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Just put it out there that your facility and your scientists welcome artists, and our experience is this… But it is a good point that artist needs are different than scientist needs. They don’t come with funding, nor (generally) a basic understanding of ecological issues. They need more help than the typical scientist doing work at a field station.

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We can’t do it alone. We need to reach out!

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What happening in the FSML world? Great enthusiasm for the idea. Group includes members of OBFS, NAML, GNOMO and LTER network. Now a full committee. Blog with case studies, examples, conference reports, ideas Survey, which informed… Publications Grants initiated

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A subgroup of Art@FSMLs Working Group held a Reno meeting between institutions, funders, educators, artists, humanists, and scientist to brainstorm how to take art/science collaborations to the next level--using art for creative problem solving rather than just as illustration and outreach--with FSMLs as the catalyst. Hosted by the Center for Art + Environment - Nevada Museum of Art, with field station participation from OBFS, NAML,GNOMO, LTER and others. Main product: #ArtSciConverge Dinner picture after the official meeting: everyone is so excited, they’re waving their hands and talking at the same time!

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Excellent, supportive reviews; concern about implementation strategy. Kicked back for revision.

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Get proposal from Kevin or Lindsey?

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Chair of Working Group.

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The Sagehen Art Program Formed from a 2011 request by the Nevada Museum of Art to host a 50-year art project; Lots of interest: 13 major projects at various stages; Lots of confusion…why art at a field research station?

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PRESENTATION TOPICS Why are arts--including humanities--not just a good idea, but critically important for science at FSMLs (also for labs and even individual scientists)? We need more friends and more ideas Art improves scientific creativity Art detects patterns useful as raw material for science Art changes perception (draw a quick sketch of your neighbor, please!) “Maybe, but, why even go there at all?”

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CASE STUDY: DELTA MARSH FIELD STATION Winnipeg, Ontario CANADA 40+ year history; Strong portfolio of research and publication; Important node in a continent-scale migratory bird observatory; Healthy tradition of university education and scientific training. And yet…

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CASE STUDY: DELTA MARSH FIELD STATION Winnipeg, Ontario CANADA …DMFS was bulldozed to the ground in 2010.

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If traditional science metrics aren’t enough to demonstrate value, then what is? UNIVERSITY MISSION 1. RESEARCH 2. EDUCATION 3. PUBLIC SERVICE

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National Academy of Sciences NRC report: “Enhancing the Value and Sustainability of Field Stations and Marine Laboratories in the 21st Century”. Schubel, et al. 2014 Memo: Science must get RELEVANT, and BE better at engaging society!

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1.1 What (else) is wrong with exclusively looking to science to solve emerging socio-environmental problems? 1. We need broader engagement, more ideas, more interest “But, can non-scientists solve problems?”

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1.1 Science is NOT the root of human creativity Science is a criterion of truth, not its source

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WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “ART/SCIENCE COLLABORATION”? This is what many (most?) people think of:

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“The world of the arts is all about going for emotional response, which isn’t often what a scientist wants to do — rightfully so, I think. But at the same time, without emotional attachment to the issue, people aren’t really going to wake up to what’s going on.” -- Hydrologist Zion Klos , Climate Odyssey Project Broader Impacts of Art/Science Collaboration Are very important! What is that thing? Why is it here?

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IT’S NOT JUST VISUAL ART Remember, art = arts and humanities! “Knowledge can be stored in databases, documentation, process tables, decision trees, wikis and quick reference guides. But one of the most powerful ways to store knowledge is though stories. Much knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, exists in the minds of the experts…” – Marty Rosenheck, CognitiveAdvisors.com “…arts learning should be studied as a serious cognitive activity.”

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WHY ART/SCIENCE COLLABORATION IS MORE THAN OUTREACH 2. Doing art stimulates scientific creativity.

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Theoretician Ed Belbruno of Princeton uses painting to capture images of concepts he hasn’t described mathematically…yet.

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ARTISTIC PATTERN-SEEKING INFORMS SCIENCE… 3. Artists can discover and create raw material for science: “Metaphors help stimulate the investigative imagination of good scientists.” - Anthony Trewavas

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As it turns out, seeing clearly (pattern-detection) is exactly what Vincent Van Gogh was doing in “Starry Night”…

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Aristotle, Boole, Shannon, and “The Most Important Master’s Thesis of the Century”…

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THE PLIABILITY OF PERCEPTION

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SYMBOLIC PERCEPTION “…Cognitive science suggests that perception is a pliable process that constructs itself, not just from the raw material of whatever reality lies beyond the senses, but from the experience and expectations of the perceiver. Artists and scientists working side by side at field research sites actually see differently. These differences can enrich and complement each other to make deeper fundamental discoveries…the most transformative science is conducted by scientists who are also involved in artistic practices.” -- Leigh, et al, 2015. The Symbolic Default…

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SYMBOL VS PATTERN Artistic techniques--like drawing, music, poetry, etc.--are learned skills that train us to perceive and manipulate real patterns, rather than just imposing symbols to represent what we expect the world to be… …It’s not magic you are born with.

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Lots of research in support: BUT YOU WANT PROOF YOU CAN FEEL, DON’T YOU? LEFT SIDE OF ROOM, CLOSE YOUR EYES!

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Study Knowledge Determines What You “See”!

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SO, IF DIFFERENT PEOPLE JUST SEE DIFFERENTLY… …WE NEED TO BRING ARTISTS INTO THE MIX AT THE BEGINNING, TO HELP DEFINE THE QUESTIONS AND TACKLE THE PROBLEMS. NOT AT THE END, TO TRY TO GET THEM TO FORCE THROUGH IDEAS THEY HAVE NO EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO, TO MEMBERS OF SOCIETY THAT SIMPLY DO NOT CARE (& NEVER WILL) ABOUT THE SCIENCE PERSPECTIVE.

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NOW THAT WE AGREE… “BUT, HOW DO WE MAKE IT HAPPEN? WE’RE ALL TOO BUSY, ALREADY. AND WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!” …that art makes a critical discovery and broader impacts partner to science at field research sites, you’re thinking:

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WHO’S ALREADY DOING THIS? “The critical challenges of the 21st century require mobilization and cross- fertilization among the domains of art, science and technology.” “Particle physics and the arts are inextricably linked: both are ways to explore our existence, what it is to be human and our place in the universe. The two fields are natural creative partners for innovation, research and development.” “…M.I.T. model begun in the late 1960s of bringing in artists to humanize technology and create more expansive-thinking scientists.”

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TYPICAL ARTS COMMUNITY REACTION to an invitation to work at a field research station

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FIND PARTNERS University and college art programs Artist residencies Arts organizations Public arts commissions Art museums Galleries and exhibitors OBFS, GNOMO, LTER WESTAF, Public Art Archive (PAA) ?

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Art@FSMLs Working Group formed over a lunch table discussion at the 2014 OBFS/NAML joint meeting fsml-art.blogspot.com

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June 19-21, 2015: NSF-funded Planning Meeting in Reno, NV “Perspectives: Examining Complex Ecological Dynamics through Arts, Humanities and Science Integration “ Participants: NEA, Grantmakers in the Arts, Nevada Museum of Art, Carnegie Museums, Aquarium of the Pacific, cognitive scientists, artist-scientists, environmental artists, FSMLs, LTERs, Experimental Forests, faculty, STEM to STEAM educators, archivists, SEAD network, Arts@CERN, philosophers, writers, etc. Products: #ArtSciConverge launched: goal is to link art and science communities at FSMLs for fundamental discovery (as well as traditional outreach and education) An advisory council and a coordinated (and growing!) group of participants moving forward. Join us! Online videos of presentations and side interviews Increased visibility of FSMLs within arts--and arts funding—communities. Misc. press and social media (use hashtag) New projects and partnerships Archive of #ArtSciConverge art/science products at the Center for Art + Environment - Nevada Museum of Art RCN proposal… See blog post for links!

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NSF Research Coordination Network (RCN) proposal--submitted 8-4-15 “ArtSciConverge: Integrating the arts and humanities with long-term ecological research.“ Leigh, et al. Would fund a 5-year effort to connect the arts community with the science community using field stations as the catalyst: “Our vision is that, within five years, it will be the norm and not the exception to include artists, humanists and social neurobiologists with ecologists on teams that are exploring and seeking to solve the complex social and environmental problems we face in the coming decades.”

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NEA proposal—submitted 4-15-16 “Experimental Forest: Media Art, Data and Ecology”, Rustad, et al. Would fund a 6-site project connecting artists with field science at FSMLs: “Harvestworks will partner with the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation and a network of biological field stations and Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites to support artist residencies on the creative use of environmental data.”

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WHERE TO FROM HERE? Work to fund #ArtSciConverge, the umbrella that will provide support, sustainability, and continuity of effort; Work with Center for Art + Environment - Nevada Museum of Art to: Develop art/science project archiving tools and prescriptions, communication mechanisms; Target important and relevant artists for field station partnerships; Expand partnerships with art museums, aquaria, zoos, and other art research and outreach specialists; Work with Alliance of Artist Communities to explore more efficient ways to integrate scientists into arts programs, and artists into field stations; Insert early arts integration into other efforts, like GNOMO; Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) funded a study of their member interest and will host a meeting with arts funders in 2016; Increase networking between art programs within OBFS, NAML, GNOMO, LTER, Experimental Forests and Ranges (EFR), etc.; Increase visibility of efforts through new partnerships, publications, blog, presentations; Encourage and facilitate art/sci collaborations at field stations; Continue to develop our local FSML art/science programs as models; Develop Best Practices for art at FSMLs; Other ideas? What do you want to do? What do you need to do it? How can we help?

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THANKS! Faerthen Felix, ffelix@berkeley.edu fsml-art.blogspot.com More art/sci examples: goo.gl/zTa4qy

Summary: Why is it critically important for field research stations to welcome artists?

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