In September 2013 we brought together a group of artists and scientists to gauge what collaborations could potentially be formed for the Silent Signal project. Here, scientific collaborator Bentley Crudgington looks back on the findings of the afternoon, weaving anecdotes from the participants into the assessment.
The lab afternoon was divided into specific exercises which allowed the participants to interact and foster collaborations while subtly being assessed against a criteria framework. The activities and the assessment framework were explicitly designed to demonstrate and capture behaviours and interactions that would be essential in the latter stages of the project.
To kick things off the participants were asked to share one image that showcased their work and were given one minute to talk about their work and practices. This harshly succinct alternative to standard icebreakers was an exercise in creative editing and the communicating of salient information.
“…a great opportunity to really think hard about the best way of communicating…”
Artists then ‘dated’ a scientist for four minutes in an intense round of speed dating. During the date the scientists were encourage to shamelessly self-promote themselves and their research while responding to the insightful and enthusiastically probing questioning of their artist date.
“I thought that the speed dating event was quite inspired. I found it a very quick and effective way of establishing potential common interest.”
Finally artists and scientists were put into groups and given a scientific paper and forty-five minutes to prepare a public engagement pitch. The pitch had to include a description of the scientific methodology and the artistic techniques that would be employed for the hypothetical project.
“I enjoyed the group work very much – great to get people talking about neutral material.”
All of the activities were designed for the participants to stumble upon potential areas of common interest and resonance points. It was hoped that from within these structured but relaxed activities natural collaborative partnerships would emerge.
“It was great to meet such interesting people, both in art and science.”
The event proved to be a fantastic springboard for this project and created a real buzz in the participants. Participants found stimulation and commonality in many aspects of their respective fields. The seeds of collaborative partnerships were firmly planted and everyone was inspired and enthused not only by the science and art discussed during the day but the art and science projects to come.
Bentley Crudgington is a virologist currently studying for a PhD at Imperial College London.