[ISEA2023] Panel: Jiayi Young, Jean-Marc Chomaz, Tim Hyde & Samuel Bianchini — Useful Fictions: An experimental platform for creative co-production of artwork by artist-scientist teams

Panel Statement

Theme: (Re)invented Alliances Sub Theme: Symbiotic Organizations

Keywords: useful fictions, art-science, collaboration, transdisciplinary, climate science, complex problem, human-centered narrative, laboratories, ecological thinking, belief, future

Useful Fictions began as a two-year collaboration between artists, designers, and scientists from the University of California, Davis, USA, and the Chaire Arts et Sciences of the École polytechnique and École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, France. In 2019, gathering a coalition of artists, designers, humanists, and graduate students to work with globally acclaimed climate scientists in their labs, the project culminated as a week-long multidisciplinary symposium at École polytechnique and a temporary public art project titled The Speed of Light (SOL) Expedition, which took place in Montmartre, Paris, France. The goal of the collaboration was to design and implement an experimental platform suitable for bringing artists and scientists together to exchange shared concerns of critical ecological and societal importance. The vehicle that carried the discourse forward was the creative co-production of artwork by the artist-scientist teams. In pursuit of shared inquiries, the teams worked side-by-side with an attitude toward embracing the complexity of the problem and modeling radical openness to research in which tools, laboratories, and studio work are shared between the team members.

The project’s framework emphasized examining the pars pro toto correlation between measurements and their interpretations. With a focus on examining the context and expanding concepts of ecological thinking through creative means, this project invites the rethinking of a human-centered narrative that dominates and defines contemporary cultural consciousness. We ask: “What controls the manufacturing of our systems of belief? What stories do we tell ourselves? Can we imagine differently?”

At this panel, Useful Fictions lead collaborators will join as panelists to discuss their lab activities and outcomes. The panel will examine and discuss how these creative and critical approaches to the shared inquiry can inform contemporary debates surrounding values and new directions of art and science collaborations. The panel is also an opportunity to extend an open invitation for an external critique of the work.

  • Jiayi Young is an Associate Professor of Design at the University of California, Davis, USA. Her inquiries lie within the emergent and experimental field of digital media with an emphasis on the cross-disciplinary areas of design that integrate the arts, the sciences with cutting-edge technology. Her current research and creative work are focused on constructing data-driven sensor-enabled interfaces, installations, real-time projection graphics, participatory performances, and immersive environments in cultural and public places with the goal of creating generative energy to engage the public in social dialogue. Using multidisciplinary approaches, her work examines contemporary society, including the culture of consumption, the programming and exploitation of the feminine, cultural assimilation, and personal identity. Leveraging social media, crowd-sourced media, and user-created content, she sets up scenarios and creates conditions to make visible empathetic relationships between people in the presence of contemporary culture. Her work invites the public to participate to come in close contact with an experience that engages the rethinking of the present-day human experience.
  • Tim Hyde, Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis, USA
  • Samuel Bianchini, Associate Professor, École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Université PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres), France