7.3. Australian Science-Art

Australian Science-Art

Australia has a history of interdisciplinary science-arts practice stretching back at least three decades, and our country’s science-art scene is recognised internationally for the high standard of work it has produced.

Dedicated science-art organisations such as the Australian Network of Art and Technology (ANAT) and the University of Western Australia’s Symbiotica lab have established significant reputations for their longstanding and committed support for innovative science-art practice.

Funding bodies including the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research’s National Science Week initiative have supported a wide range of interdisciplinary projects, and arts organisations, science institutions, museums, science centres and festivals, all offer varying degrees of support where they are able. Australian science-arts practitioners such as Stelarc, Oron Catts, Patricia Piccinini, Kirsty Boyle and Keith Armstrong are recognised worldwide as leaders in the field.

Despite these achievements, there are areas in which Australia’s science-art community could be strengthened and developed.

In comparison to the quantity and quality of interdisciplinary work currently being generated in countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and Canada, Australia has a long way to go.

In order to improve the infrastructure that currently exists for Australian science-arts, it might be worth establishing a set of goals for the community as a whole. A consultation process with stakeholders from the Australian science-arts community could clarify questions such as:

  • What is a reasonable standard for Australian science-art?
  • What are our ambitions for this community?
  • Where are the gaps in the structures that currently exist?

I will refrain in this report from making recommendations regarding any specific Australian institution or organisation. Instead, I have extracted some insights, tools and principles for successful interdisciplinary science-art collaboration from the diverse set of individuals, organisations and projects I encountered through my research fellowship.