Kaleider is a studio based in Exeter U.K which provides a venue to bring people together to make extraordinary live experiences, to produce new work, and to provide support for artists to develop, push boundaries and take risks with their ideas. It was therefore an invitation we couldn't refuse when we were asked if we would like to talk about WAM for one of their Friday lunchtime talks. It was a great chance to explore our ideas about colliding the sciences with the arts and to explore with the Kaleider folk what brings us together across the supposed arts science divide.
We didn't just want to do a straight talk though. We wanted to do something a bit different. So we thought about starting off with a bit of play acting with a rather large prop and framing our little interactive production into three parts. It seemed to work. At least our bungled attempts to get the WAM banner up and our fetching an argo float into the venue got a few laughs and captured the attention of an attentive crowd.
Once we'd introduced some of the science behind argo floats and how they have helped assess the extent of global warming we moved on to a discussion about data. Scientists take data and build a new picture of the world. As do artists. And our ideas? It turned out a common experience in the room was that creative new ideas often come from "looking at a thing over here, and at a thing over there" and realising "that if you put these two things together you might have something truly original." And finally we thought about the results of our creativity. Scientists write papers, give talks, present posters, different perhaps from works of art, plays or novels. But everyone has an understanding of what makes a good story and this is no different for scientists reading a paper: a beginning, a middle and an end; a set up, complication and resolution. Furthermore really good stories don't resolve, they just lead on to the next thing, just like a good scientific paper that leads on to the next research problem to attack.
This brought us on to WAM, our laboratory for finding out how we can talk each other's language, understand each others points of view and feel excited about weather and hopeful about climate change. We wrapped up and carried on the conversation as we took down the banner and man-handled the ARGO float out of the room. Connections were made with fascinating people doing intriguing things at the intersections between the arts and sciences. We're looking forward to the next WAM events and how we can build on the connections made at Kaleider.