Quiet terror: studio, lab and experiment at the edge of the known


Session Title:

  • Art & Science

Presentation Title:

  • Quiet terror: studio, lab and experiment at the edge of the known




  • This paper will explore scientific endeavour in direct relation to creative practice and consider each as a site of the contemporary sublime. Central to this investigation is a series of video works that I have been producing over the last 18 months that are primarily intended as discursive spaces through which scientists reflect upon the nature of their practice. At the heart of this investigation is the idea of the laboratory and studio as the theatre for the exploration of the unknown and the creation of new knowledge. A central question I am exploring is how artists and scientists relate in their abandonment of a priori forms as they search for the not yet discovered. I am interested in how our approach to the unknown, the languages, codes and technologies we use, the materials and ways we negotiate the liminality of certainty, define the experience of the unknown and shape our creation of knowledge, thus create both ‘converging and diverging realities’. I am interested in contemporary manifestations of the sublime, particularly the existential terror of the sublime when contemplating the unknown as it relates to fields of knowledge. The presentation will explore how scientists engaged in the creation of knowledge negotiate this terror. Using video as both documentary record and art form I am filming four female scientists as they perform their research. The experience/experiment of filming in the laboratory is of primary importance to this project. Rather than intruding on the experiment, the act of filming pays witness to and in part facilitates the establishment a quiet and contemplative space. The relationship between camera and instrument transforms the experiment into something more concentrated yet circumspect. I will use brief segments of my film as part of my presentation to illustrate the key points of my presentation.