Artistic Research Collaboratives in Science, Engineering and Technology (ARCiSET) Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Associate Professor

Artistic Research Collaboratives in Science, Engineering and Technology (ARCiSET)

Artistic Research Collaboratives in Science, Engineering and Technology (ARCiSET)
Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Associate Professor
University of Washington, Bothell


Artistic Research Collaboratives in Science, Engineering and Technology, ARCiSET is an international sci-art research and action project designed to bring local, national and international communities together for the purposes of learning from each other. ARCiSET on Water: Cochin will bring together participants from India, the United States, Hong Kong, and Indonesia to investigate the links between arts practices, science, technology, cultural diplomacy, and water as a material resource and carrier of symbolic value, particularly within the context of rivers. Subsequently, the participants will return to their respective locales, and, in small teams, develop follow up projects that disseminate the processes and the work of the project in order to localize it further. This project will generate internationalization for and between the respective partners that can also lead to new university and community sci-arts initiatives.

In an effort to collaborate on how to generate new forms of communication, arts, design and technology across communities in Cochin who are struggling with these water issues and to create a model for generating best practices in the field of arts diplomacy this project –ARCiSET on Water: Cochin– will partner with local agencies in science, engineering, law, and the arts to explore how we can use arts and design processes as methods of thematic inquiry and problem-solving in a cross-cultural context:
a)    To catalyze new forms of cultural diversity and cultural diplomacy that prepares artists and their local communities to engage in global citizenship, with a specific focus on India, particularly in a trans-Pacific context, and

b)    To create a model for generating best practices regarding university and community sci-arts initiatives in the context of the global university.

New methods of discourse and opportunities for artists across our local and global communities to engage in the conversation over water, and specifically in India, are more important than ever. These methods will allow communities to: 1) tell their local and global stories about water; 2) generate new social, political, and cultural dynamics around water practices; and, 3) find ways to bridge the science, art and religion divide that, unmitigated, haunts our water problems and limits our capacities to find new solutions fast enough.

In assessing the current phase of development of ARCiSET  and the challenges I currently face as well as the opportunities these types of projects promise, my key recommendations include the following:

1.    A set of think tanks, or cross-disciplinary research laboratories, housed in a range of US academic institutions that focus on the development of science-art research in the context of international collaborations across geographical sites. (The more ideal approach would be to create the think tanks as an international partnership between 2-3 institutions of higher education.)

The primary relevant stakeholders are university administrators (with related community partners) with a vested interest in new program and curricular development that can take the arts and sciences to its next stage.

The obstacle is the lack of both understanding of the potential and the buy-in for investing in new directions in the science-arts in terms of university-community collaborations in an international context.

The second obstacle is the lack of a language or vocabulary and related set of practices that works across locations.

Co-development of new science-art research can lead to the building of common cause around this type of work.

2.    The advocacy for new funding opportunities with the NSF and various Foundations already committed to interdisciplinary work in the sciences, engineering, and technology but with, currently underserved focus on the role that the arts and culture can play in finding new solutions to the problems that currently face us in a global context.

The relevant stakeholders are the funders as they gain new information about what can be done with their available funds in ways that reaches a larger population.

The obstacle is lack of innovation in funding opportunities.

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