Despite a modern-day institutional compartmentalization that seeks to distance the arts – and the humanities of which they are a part – from the natural sciences, they revolve within a shared history characterized as much by negotiation, mutual learning, and symbiosis as by pronouncements of fundamental difference. And, it is the recognition of this shared history, as well as a desire to draw upon it as both intellectual resource and source material, that helps drive the emergence of what has been termed the 'new Leonardos' (Malina 2001) – a loosely-held movement that thrives upon the collaboration between artists and scientists. Engagingly diverse with respect to the mechanics and goals of the collaborative process, what holds these efforts together is the felt need to conceptualize and work through the disciplinary repercussions of compartmentalization.
It is our intent to explore and learn from this collaborative endeavor, drawing out its impulses, philosophies, products and wider intellectual and public import.
In a comparative analysis of several sites we will provide comprehensive descriptions of: the wider contexts (political, economic, cultural, and institutional) that encompass settings for interaction; the scientific research undertaken and the disciplinary, technological, and regulatory contexts that surround it; and the work of the artists, in terms of genre, medium, message, technology, senses, access and dissemination.
We will also focus attention on a number of research questions – institutional, political, epistemic, technological and audience-related – that circulate through all of the sites of collaboration. This analytic work will allow us to make three key contributions to the scientific, artistic, geographic and STS communities, namely: (a) take stock of and evaluate predominant trends within the science-art collaborative endeavor; (b) identify those contexts, mechanisms and procedures that have facilitated dynamic and engaging forms of collaboration, as well as impediments to the same; and (c) consider the wider intellectual and public impacts of such collaborations.