Poetic Spaces of Human Experience
Intersecting Art and Research
Performance-lecture at TEDx Zurich 16/11/2018 (watch directly on youtube)
Jasch concept, music, sounds, text, performance and talk
Daniel Bisig images, software and videotracking
Stephan Schacher - location footage US/Canada 2015

Spoken parts:

Research through art provides unique insights into human experience. It can show inner states that we don't have access to in everyday life. By activating emotions, imagination and learning, the experience of art transmits an important part of our culture. And while some arts practices play the role of entertainment, others pose difficult questions and challenge us in our thinking.

My own practice is creating pieces for the stage, installations and other time-based forms using technology. This includes music, images, and movement, and new ways of connecting them. The practice of digital arts inherits from advances in entertainment technologies and computation processes, and adds playful interactions and sensory experiences. This results in an art-form that can show the potential but also the limits and dangers of giving too much weight to technology.

Nowadays we encounter arts most often on a screen, more rarely live on stage or in a gallery. These mediated forms reach a much wider audience, but they are limited, because they are less rich, vivid, and touching than their physical counterparts. A live performance with projection or a painting animated on a screen are very interesting, of course, but also more problematic because of their involvement with technology.

Encounters on the boundary between art and science in cross-disciplinary exchange can open up the space for new types of knowledge to emerge. As artist-researchers, we accumulate the expertise to become credible in both fields. Bridging the two domains allows us to investigate perceptual phenomena, creative processes, and the meaning and social impact of experience transmission through art. Linking methods from science with art practices lets us create an intersection between thinking and imagination, memory and reflection.

Performing digital art works for the stage, for example, can be considered an experimental lab-situation. By using media technologies as a lens for observation, we can bring to the foreground transformations, even in our environments; in the landscapes and cities that we inhabit. It allows us to understand the ways our societies are influenced by technology. And by going out of the lab and engaging the public through art-works this approach has an impact beyond academic circles.

Research through art puts human experience into the centre and brings to light processes of perception, emotion, imagination and learning. With this knowledge we can propose alternate ways of considering the relationships between art, science, and technology; propose alternate roles for researchers and artists; and perhaps even alternate ways of living together in society. And because we work intensely with technology, we are able to give a well-founded critique of the dominant, market-driven entertainment industries that colonize our imagination and shape the way we see the world.

Ultimately, the creation and research of the poetic spaces of art increases our understanding of what makes us the humans that we are.

Pictures from twitter @borisbaldinger (1-3) & @zhdk (4)