Towards the Third Culture, the Co-Existence of Art, Science and Technology

Prof. hab. Ryszard W. Kluszczynski from the University of Lodz, who cooperates with Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art as “Art & Science Meeting” Art Director wrote – as a prelude to the up and coming international conference in Gdansk titled “Towards the Third Culture, the Co-Existence of Art, Science and Technology”:

“Contemporary transformations in art have led it towards the domain of scientific research, towards disciplines labelled as sciences. Art today creatively dialogues with genetics, biotechnology and research on AI.”

Contemporary trends in artistic creation have seen the discourse, or epistemic sphere of art and the discourse, or epsitemic sphere of science gradually getting closer and closer to each other. In the light of this Kluszczynski ´s statement, grounded in the theories of cultural emprisario John Brockman, doesn´t seem far off. There´s no denying there´s an actual and gradual merging of the two epistemic spheres that is constituted by art and science

Towards the Third Culture, the Co-Existence of Art, Science and Technology

Contemporary transformations in art have led it towards the domain of scientific research, towards disciplines labelled as sciences. Art today creatively dialogues with genetics, biotechnology and research on AI. This is not only a result of the new aspirations of art. A parallel transformation of concepts in science, an evolution of its theories from Ernest Nagel and Karl Popper to Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, along with the resulting contextualisation and relativisation of the value of scientific results, leads one to the very definite conclusion that science should not now be seen the only field of social practice where knowledge is produced. Consequently, art has today assumed a new role, rejecting the traditional division into objective science and subjective art. Art now aspires to the role of a research milieu, a source of significant and valuable knowledge. The links between art thus shaped and the sphere of sciences are no longer based on the popularising of or critical references to scientific results, as it was in the past. Art can be, and frequently is, a domain and method of scientific research. Numerous artistic works, most often from the sphere of the new media, undertake tasks located between traditionally understood artistic creation and scientific-cognitive activity. On the one hand, these works reactivate the alternative scientific tradition in epistemology, rejected during the Enlightenment, on the other, they transplant artistic practice to R&D laboratories. As an effect of such a migration numerous new artistic tendencies as bioart, robotic art, transgenic art and nanoart have emerged. Artworks, stemming from these tendencies and joining artistic and scientific attributes, constitute a new and significant value in both fields. First of all, however, they introduce new and significant values to the social milieu in which such tendencies are developing.

Today’s art, developing close, structural relations with contemporary media technologies and scientific paradigms, constructs objects of artistic experience in an entirely different way to the traditional media of art. Bestowing these objects with unprecedented character, this art proposes different strategies in the negotiation of their meanings and, first and foremost, engages those who receive them in an entirely different way. It no longer refers to the traditional concept of artistic culture, understanding art as an individual and autonomous domain, governed by its own principles and rules. Art reaching for scientific technologies now develops in the context of the vision of the third culture, postulated by John Brockman, and preceded by its forerunner, C.P. Snow’s concept of two cultures. According to Brockman, the third culture consists of scientists, thinkers and researchers of the empirical world who, thanks to their work and writings, are now taking over and transforming the role of the traditional intellectual elite. Contemporary artistic creation, unifying the paradigms of art, science and technology in its activities, is going to overcome the opposition between the humanist world of art and the world of science – the opposition that begot Brockman’s concept of the third culture. This refreshed vision of the third culture is not founded upon conflict but on the mutual interactions of the two, or rather – three, worlds, including the engineers’ world of technology, in the game. Such culture, absorbing not only the paradigms of art, science and technology but also, the structures of information and Internet society, and the determinants of participative culture, is shaping the new framework of our future.

The conference, planned for 23 – 25 May 2011 will concentrate on the mutual relations between the three indicated domains of human creativity. Its participants – scientists and scholars of various specialities, and artists – will present the results of research and studies on various aspects of these relations and try to think of possible consequences of this situation for contemporary culture.

Text: Prof. hab. Ryszard W. Kluszczynski, University of Lodz, Poland.


dr Monika Bakke,
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland.

Kuba Bąkowski,
Artist from Warsaw, Poland.

Edwin Bendyk,
Journalist at POLITYKA Spółdzielnia Pracy, Warzaw, Poland.
Personal blog.

Prof. Elinor Nina Czegledy,
University of Toronto, Canada.

Prof. Monika Fleischmann/ Prof. Wolfgang Strauss,
Media Artists and Researchers in Digital Media, New Media Art and Theory, Interface Design and the Concept of Interactivity,
Fraunhofer IAIS, Sankt Augustin, Germany;

Prof. James Gimzewski,
University of California, Los Angeles, USA.

Prof. dr hab. Joanna Hoffman,
University of Arts in Poznań, Poland.

Prof. Lissa Holloway-Attaway,
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden.

Mrs. Malin Jogmark,
Program Director at Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden.

Dr. Fabrice Lapelletrie, France.

Prof. Roger Malina,
Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille-Provence, France.

Prof. Michael Punt,
University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, The United Kingdom.

Prof. Jasia Reichardt,
London, The United Kingdom.

Prof. Victoria Vesna,
UCLA Design, Media, Arts; Broad Art Center, Los Angeles, USA.


Home Of The Brain, © Monica Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss

Semantic Map, © Monika Fleischmann/Wolfgang Strauss

Energie Passagen, © Monika Fleischmann/Wolfgang Strauss

Liquid Views, © Monika Fleischmann/Wolfgang Strauss

©Krysztof Miekus
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