“Useful Fictions: An experimental platform for creative co-production of artwork by artist-scientist teams” presented by Young, Chomaz, Bianchini and Hyde


Session Title:

  • (Re)invented Alliances (panels and round tables)

Presentation Title:

  • Useful Fictions: An experimental platform for creative co-production of artwork by artist-scientist teams

Presentation Subtheme:

  • Symbiotic Organizations




  • 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.