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What art and science want: disciplines and cultures in contention

Stones, A.; (2011) What art and science want: disciplines and cultures in contention. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Art and science cannot 'want' anything, but artists can be interested in disciplinary outcomes other than those authenticated within their own field, and scientists can want a greater sense of cultural agency than is allowed within a strictly-ruled discipline. The pursuit of such aspirations puts into contention the integrity of arts and sciences as disciplines (for knowing and making a world), and the effectiveness of their cultures in transmitting their selectivist disciplinary gains, or opening them to participation and scrutiny. This inquiry uses Pierre Bourdieu's formulation of the social fields of art and science critically within a self-reflexive (artist's) discourse. It asks whether aspirations to extend art and science in the ways summarized above are mutually-enhancing, or part of a struggle for disciplinary dominance and the control of normative culture. The aim is a better understanding of what is at stake for an ambiguously-defined contemporary art when artists and scientists extend their interests to each other's fields – given that their aspirations ('wants') can be disciplinary or cultural, and either intrinsic or extrinsic, conventionally speaking, to their home fields. Conventionally, art as a discipline modulates between the aesthetic and the intellectual, the wild and the rational, remaining ambiguous about its precise gains. Within the extended field of art, this ambiguity is resolved opportunistically, among mutuallydependent agents: artists, curators, academics, collectors (etc.). Explicitly scienceengaged art is a special case within this art world, and, conversely, art-world conventions are rejected by some prominent art-science practitioners. Such selective authentications and disavowals raise the stakes around science-engaged art. On the one hand it seems, at best, to be merely indexical of the ongoing scientification of everything; on the other, it particularizes the idea of art as a vector of rational agency, inviting a new necessity and progressivity in art.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:What art and science want: disciplines and cultures in contention
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Slade School of Fine Art

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