The chapter describes the synergistic integration of distinct research and creation agendas, each firmly grounded in its own set of practices and methodologies. The authors participate in three separate domains of practice: humanities scholarship, scientific research, and artistic creation. They have continued to work within their respective specialties, but have also aligned their research and creation activities within a larger context that enriches their individual work. Humanities scholarship, artistic creation, and scientific research support each other at various critical junctures in the overall arc of the research. The chapter analyzes the details of each individual research or creation strand, and identifies the instances and the dynamics of mutual support and synergy. The mechanisms and attitudes that support the success of cross-disciplinary collaboration are identified and explicated.
Collaboration And Cross-Disciplinary Practice
The topic of collaboration has been examined through various lenses. Bennis and Biederman examined collaboration in the business world (Bennis and Biederman, 1997). They found a number of factors which aided the development of successful collaborations. Their list included quality of participants, quality of leadership, shared purpose, ability to focus, optimistic stance, commitment to finishing, development of espirit-de-corps, and a sense of great work as its own reward. Schrage examined the same domain and found a similar list that included shared goals and a general level of competence, but added mutual respect, trust, effective communication, clear roles leavened by flexibility, and the examination of multiple representations of critical phenomena (Shrage, 1995).
Others have considered the question of collaboration across the two domains in question in this chapter (the arts and the sciences). Some have identified success factors that echo the findings drawn from the business world, but they also add other factors as well. Candy and Edmonds have the following list: shared vision, complementary interests, communication (including the development of a shared language). Significantly, they also include “time” within their list of enablers, indicating the need for a sustained effort at cross-discipline collaboration (Candy and Edmonds, 2002). In separate studies, Vera John-Steiner (John-Steiner, 2000) and Oppenheimer (Oppenheimer, 2007) also stress the importance of common vision and shared values to dynamically harness distinct roles and traditional discipline-based approaches into a shared agenda. The Bridges Project brought together a group of artists and scientists to discuss their experience in arts-science collaborations. They stress the importance of language as a potential unifier, or disruptor, citing the need to maintain disciplinary language for purposes of precision, but also a concomitant need to clarify meaning across practices (Pearce, Diamond and Bean, 2003).
Finally, Wilson disagrees with Snow’s basic assumption of fundamental differences. He maintains there is significant commonality in the two approaches: “…scientific and technological research should be viewed more broadly than in the past: not only as specialized technical inquiry, but as cultural creativity and commentary, much like art” (Wilson, 2002). We lean towards this interpretation, and although we each respect the perspectives and methodologies of our core domains, the history of our research program illustrates commonalities and intersections that join our interests and enquiries.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Poetics: Originally (from Aristotle) the study of the form and structure of classic Greek drama. The term has since broadened, and now refers to “the creative principles informing any literary, social or cultural construction, or the theoretical study of these; a theory of form.” (quote from Oxford English Dictionary, 2007)
Frame Rate: Is the rate or frequency at which an imaging device records or displays a sequence of frames. As a rate, it is expressed in frames per second (fps), while as a frequency in hertz (Hz).
High Dynamic Range (HDR): Means that the range of luminance (brightness) values has been increased.
Close Reading: Critical, highly detailed deconstruction and analysis of a text or a work of art.
Frame Interpolation: Is a method of constructing and inserting new video frames between existing frames within a given video sequence.
Frame: In both film and video, a single image is referred to as a frame.
Motion Estimation: Is the process of determining motion vectors that describe the transformation from one frame to an adjacent one in a video sequence.
Ambient Video: Video piece intended to play in the background, but to also give visual pleasure whenever it is looked at. Like Brian Eno’s ambient music, ambient video “must be as easy to ignore as it is to notice”. Also called “video painting”.