Homing in on Aesthetic Wisdom: Workshop facilitated by Devora Neumark and Ju-Pong Lin

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Presented as part of Whole Terrain: Reflective Environmental Practice: Communicating Science

Building on each our respective research-creation practices, we propose a participatory workshop on the subject of fostering fruitful art and science collaborations. Aiming to counter the unidirectional nature of closed communication, we will structure the workshop in ways that involve participants in dialogic, relational forms of communication such as story circle, live-art and community performance.

We will begin by engaging participants in an aesthetic experience with the intention of engrossing the senses. We will then present a variety of communications models and collectively explore how they might hinder or support learning, sharing, and development of knowledge. Together with the workshop participants, we will examine the limitations of slideware as a form of communication, drawing on Edward Tufte’s Power Point critique. Peter Norvig’s web-based version of the Gettysburg Address will act as a counter example to initiate our exploration of successful artist-scientist partnerships (e.g. Mel Chin, Jackie Brookner, Critical Art Ensemble, and the DATA project at the Nanolab of McGill University).

Ju-Pong Lin works with community performance and video to re-make “home” from within and without, drawing on theories of urban ecology. Devora Neumark is currently completing her doctoral thesis titled “Radical Beauty for Troubled Times: Involuntary Displacement and the Making of Home Anew”, which examines the role that beauty plays in the process of becoming home anew in the aftermath of forced displacement. Working with Gregory Bateson’s philosophy of aesthetic wisdom, Neumark writes, “Bateson’s philosophy upholds a view of beauty’s holistic educational benefits. He suggests that the loss of aesthetic wisdom has brought humanity to the brink of unhoming ourselves on earth.” While our specific research interests lie in questions of home and the problematics of restoring a sense of being at home on earth we propose that beauty is not the “what,” but the how and the why of communication.
Participants will take away new skills and deeper appreciation for artistic approaches to knowledge-making. They will gain a heightened capacity to recognize the importance of sensual perception in assessing forms of communication and a revitalized awareness of the importance of incorporating a concern for beauty as a scientific value within their research paradigms, community and educational projects and communication efforts. We believe that an interdisciplinary art-science collaborative practice holds the possibility of reawakening the aesthetic wisdom Bateson celebrates and nurturing the co-creation of knowledge at the nexus between arts and science.

Interdisciplinary artist Devora Neumark is a member of the MFA-Interdisciplinary Arts Program Faculty at Goddard College (Vermont). Neumark is also currently a SSHRC-funded Humanities PhD Candidate at Concordia University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (Montreal).
Ju Pong Lin makes community performance and performative video and is a faculty in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College (Washington and Vermont). Lin has just begun the PhD in Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England.

Web Links:
Homing in on Aesthetic Wisdom
Whole Terrain: Reflective Environmental Practice: Communicating Science

Devora Neumark is a PhD candidate at matralab.