Fostering an Ecology of Practices: Intersections of Art and Science

How does the practice of science impinge upon and relate to contemporary art practice, and vice versa? If we look at art and science as components of an “ecology of practices”, a phrase coined by the philosopher Isabelle Stengers, we can see that they help us engage with, sense, and create meaning from the world around us. Art and science collaborations enable us to ask what might be done in the future. These intertwinings of practice enable collaborative inquiries into complex systems and can open up critical issues – such as climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss – to audiences and stakeholders beyond both the gallery and the laboratory, exploring how we can respond to urgent social and eco-political challenges facing us today.


This discussion event brings together a group of experts from art and science to share their experiences of transdisciplinary working. We will consider the elements that help to activate, integrate and support collaborative endeavours, and discuss whether there are systemic changes that can be introduced to help to nurture such multi-perspective practices. The session is convened by Nicola Triscott and JD Talasek.


Nicola Triscott is a cultural producer, curator and writer. She is the founder and Director of Arts Catalyst, one of the UK’s most distinctive arts organizations, distinguished by ambitious artists’ commissions and pioneering transdisciplinary art and science practice. In its 22 years, Arts Catalyst has commissioned more than 135 artists’ projects and produced numerous exhibitions, events, and publications.


JD Talasek is the Director of Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. He organizes a regular salon called DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous) at the NAS. He serves on the Contemporary Art and Science Committee at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Additionally, he is on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University.


Changwoo Ahn is a Professor in Environmental Science and Policy, and an affiliated faculty member with Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering and Biology at George Mason University. He is a wetland ecosystem ecologist, an ecological engineer, and an eco-artist. Ahn is a founder and director of EcoScience + Art at George Mason University.


Mary Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time. She has collaborated with architects, planners, engineers, ecologists, and public administrators on projects as diverse as creating a temporary memorial around the perimeter of Ground Zero, marking the predicted flood level of Boulder, Colorado or turning a sewage treatment plant into a public space. A recipient of multiple awards, Mary Miss has been the subject of exhibitions at the Harvard University Art Museum, Brown University Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Architectural Association in London and many more. She is currently serving as the first artist-in-residence for the NYC Department of Design and Construction.


Adrian Cerezo explores the nexus between cultural practices, early childhood development, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. By interweaving academic research, information design and community engagement, Dr. Cerezo develops tools to think about, communicate and effectively address complex social issues. Dr. Cerezo holds a Ph.D. with a focus on Social Ecology and Developmental Science from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he is also a fellow at Zigler Center for Early Childhood Development Policy. He also serves as consultant for UNICEF global early childhood programs, and the City as a Living Laboratory project in New York, NY.





Graveyard of Lost Species, 2016

YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble & Arts Catalyst

Photo: Simon Fowler