Chair Person: Anna Dumitriu
Presenters: Alex May, Bettina Schülke, Luke Robert Mason & Gordana Novakovic
Einstein said: “If we knew what it was we were doing it would be called research, would it?”
This panel outlines “The Institute of Unnecessary Research” and presents a new paradigm in the way artists are engaging with the world through transdisciplinary practices. It brings together art, science and philosophy by creating participatory audience experiences, performances and installations. Sometimes humorous and sometimes grotesque, our work pushes boundaries and critically questions the means of knowledge production in the 21st Century. Artists are innovators, if a new piece of technology or a new medium, becomes available; artists want to try it, to experiment with it- from microbiology to robotics; from tissue culture to neuroscience. Some artists take on the role of a scientist in almost a performative way and some scientists become artists themselves. Philosophy and ethics is always at its core and the work unpacks the instrumentalization of science and art for commercial and political ends. Forms of “connective aesthetics” (Gablik) are used to engage audiences in participatory experiences that extend and generate new outcomes through exhibitions and events going beyond simple interactivity, throwing authorship into question, as members of the audience are inspired to become Unnecessary Researchers in their own rights. The Institute of Unnecessary Research is a hub for researchers and artists working experimentally and deeply engaged with their specific research areas. We present our research through performative and experiential methods, engaging the public and new audiences in our ideas. The name “The Institute of Unnecessary Research” is, in many ways, confrontational. It raises the question what is necessary research? Unnecessary does not imply pointless, it often means going beyond the normal (in the Kuhnian sense of ‘normal science’) and crossing boundaries, asking where do we draw the line with what we study or with what can be studied? Unnecessary Research encourages eccentric, obsessive, creative working practices and is an antidote to the stranglehold placed on research by central government and the gatekeepers of academia.
- Anna Dumitriu’s work blurs the boundaries between art and science. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, interactive media and textiles. Her work has a strong international exhibition profile and is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. She was a member of the e-MobiLArt project (the EU funded European Mobile Lab for Interactive Art) and Artist in Residence at The Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex University. She is known for her work as director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice. She is currently working on a Wellcome Trust funded art project entitled “Communicating Bacteria”, collaborating with the Adaptive Systems Research Group at The University of Hertfordshire (focussing on social robotics) and has recently commenced her role as Leverhulme Trust artist in residence on the Modernising Medical Microbiology project at The University of Oxford, UK.