What does mathematics have to do with language, or political science with cell biology? Can art be a means to connect several different ways of thinking, to challenge the boundaries of what is possible in each area?
Collaboration with interdisciplinary research groups from all four faculties at Stockholm University is at the heart of Accelerator’s programme activities. Groups of researchers are invited to reflect, based on their own expertise, on various forms of thinking and what presentation means in science and art. The execution in both areas illustrates contemporary social challenges in different ways.
“The field of tension between art and science ignites a spark that triggers thought. Research, like art, is creative work, but has completely different rules and conditions,” says Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf, professor of art history and senior advisor at Accelerator.
An interdisciplinary laboratory
In the meeting between art and science, new research questions, ideas and perspectives emerge. Areas of focus include similarities and differences between how different research areas deal with contemporary issues, such as the power over information and truth, but also how art affects us and how it addresses current issues. Research, in turn, inspires new art events that may generate new meetings across new boundaries.
“What we want to avoid is researchers becoming some kind of art critics. Instead, the aim is that they will notice things in the meeting that they would not think of in the regulatory framework in which they typically work. Research is governed by rules in a completely different way than art is,” says Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf.
Social relevance a cornerstone
The link to contemporary issues and major social challenges is an important cornerstone of Accelerator’s activities.
“Art is at the forefront when it comes to looking ahead. It has a sort of sense of where we are heading,” says Bengt Novén, professor of French and director of Accelerator.
The fundamental question is what it is like to be a human being at this moment in this society. At the same time, the meeting between art and research gives rise to questions of why it is relevant to work with classical subjects today.
“The present always has a link to the past, and we have to be able to explore the traditions and causal relationships that have created the patterns we live in today,” says Bengt Novén.
Reflections on “Autumn 2017”
In the autumn of 2017, twelve researchers from various disciplines at Stockholm University were tasked with observing the art that was included in the autumn’s event, “An elegy to the medium of film” and “Unknown cloud on its way to Stockholm University”, in order to reflect on the similarities and differences between art and science. To Anna-Maria Hällgren, art historian and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University, the meeting was a starting point for new ways to view knowledge.
An exploration of undisciplined thinking
“For my own part, as a researcher in art history with a particular interest in ecological sustainability, participation involved an exploration of undisciplined thinking. More and more researchers are starting to call for new ways to both understand and convey the challenges posed to us by the current ecological crisis. Despite the fact that our knowledge has never been greater, the intellectual awareness of the present conditions – of melting glaciers, animals facing extinction and disturbed ecological systems – appears to be insufficient,” says Anna-Maria Hällgren.
“Briefly put: We know. But do we know? In addition to the knowledge about climate change, we seem to need something more – a thinking that goes beyond the given framework, a thinking that includes not only our intellect but also our senses, memories, associations and ability to imagine things that lie beyond what is tangible.”