Exploring the Art-Science Interface


Exploring the Art-Science Interface
Convener: Kelly Stanford | Co-conveners: Daniel Parsons, Konstantin Novoselov, Louise Arnal
vPICO presentations
| Wed, 28 Apr, 09:00–12:30 (CEST)
Public information:
Interdisciplinary collaboration between artists and geoscientists are becoming increasingly invaluable in communicating complex geoscience subjects to non-experts. Topics such as climate change can be contradictory and confusing to the general public, particularly in terms of uncertainty and impact. It is therefore vital that STEM communicators work to find alternative methods to enable dialogue between experts and the wider public on how to face and respond to these increasingly prevalent topics. It is becoming increasingly evident that both the scientific and the artist communities have a shared interest and responsibility in raising awareness of the limits to our planetary boundaries and the fragile stability and resilience of our Earth-System. In the past, this issue has been addressed mostly through traditional educational methods. However, there is mounting evidence that science-art collaborations can play a pivotal and vital role in this context by co-creating new ways of research and by stimulating the discussion by providing emotional and human context through the arts.

This session will combine a traditional academic poster session showcasing interdisciplinary research which will explore the dialogues between the geosciences and the arts alongside a display of art that aims to visually showcase these practises in action. Through symbiotically mixing STEM and the arts together in this way, the session aims to enable a discussion on how to use the two to explore and communicate the social, economic, political and environmental factors facing society and drive improved communication. In this edition, there will be a special spotlight on science/art collaboration that has been used to tackle the topic of planet sustainability.

vPICO presentations: Wed, 28 Apr

Chairpersons: Kelly Stanford, Daniel Parsons, Konstantin Novoselov
Helen McGhie

I am a photographic artist, a PhD student and a Lecturer in Photography at the University of Sunderland. Through the still and moving image, my practice reimagines ubiquitous photography through new perspectives, engaged with place and encounter—in my practice-led PhD, I am exploring astronomy at Kielder Observatory, Northumberland, UK (KOAS). I propose a display of lens-based art (demonstrating methods), and a paper to provide context and discussion. This session is significant in engaging a 'global’ audience with creative perspectives from a ‘local’ observatory.

‘Stargazing at the ‘Invisible’: Photography and the Power of Obscured Light – A Research Partnership with Kielder Observatory’ explores how lens-based art can operate within and in response to an observatory in an International Dark Sky Park in Northern England, questioning:

  • what new encounters with dark skies emerge when a fine-art photographer works in partnership with an astronomy organisation?
  • can photography visualise the experience of dark sky observation in Northern England?
  • how can lens-based art communicate a speculative practice of astronomy?

Funded by the National Productivity Investment Fund (part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy, impacting industrial needs through researcher-industry partner collaborations), my project is designed to mutually benefit the photographic field and KOAS (supporting a new art programme), whilst offering a model for future art and ‘science outreach’ collaborations.

The multi-method work combines image-making, conversations, exhibitions and reflective practice. In addition, an extended artist residency and planned display of practice at KOAS (website, e-newsletters, site-specific contexts and pre-event film screenings) expand the potential for new photographic narratives on astronomy. An immersive encounter with the dark skies at Kielder is crucial to the work, departing from sublime starry-skies that usually illustrate astronomy.

A virtual photography exhibition and paper at EGU21 will introduce my current outcomes to STEM and creative colleagues, provoking dialogues on photography's ability to communicate complex ideas to non-specialist audiences. Concepts include speculative dark skies, encounter, and the perspective of looking from Northern England. 


'Dark Adaptation', 2019                                                                                                               SDSS plate, 2019

'Wanderers', 2017-19