Art & Science Roadshow

Art & Science Program Managers from Swissnex offices worldwide joined in Switzerland last September for the Art & Science Roadshow.

“The Future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed”, William Gibson.

– By Gabriela Devaud, Program Manager | Art & Science

With a curated program by Gabriela Devaud, Program Manager at Swissnex in Brazil, the delegation traveled around the country, connecting with partners, gaining inspiration, and exploring new opportunities in the field.

The Roadshow began by looking at the role of Art & Science in the Swissnex Network and reflecting on its goals and strategies. After brainstorming with the international group, it became clear that ‘Art & Science’, while not a goal in itself, is an excellent tool for science communication purposes.

Why work with Art? Art isn’t an add-on. Art is a field in itself with a particular way of communicating. Art discusses what we don’t understand, brings people out of their comfort zones to experience something new, and creates behavioral changes. These points made it clear that projects should use Art with clear intentions.

With this vision in mind, the week started in Zürich, connecting with the important Swissnex partner: Pro Helvetia. As an Art institution, they are also aware of the necessity of transdisciplinarity in research, so they are developing a specific area called “Art, Science, and Technology,” also creating a new call for project development.

Visiting the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK) and the University of Zurich (UZH) gave all participants a good panorama of the projects. It helped them understand what projects would fit which locations. Connecting to partners in the Future of Food and Biodiversity fields was very interesting, and the department leaders were happy to understand each location’s specialties. The delegation connected with great partners such as Silvie Cuperus, from Life Science Zurich of UZH, who is crucial for Swissnex’s work, matching each manager with the best researchers when needed.

Wednesday happened in Basel on a very inspiring day. Chus Martinez first welcomed the group at the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). Chus’ vision and development of two specific themes throughout the department are innovative and bold. The themes of nature and gender are taught collectively and looked at as subjects and not themes within the research, using art to activate society.

Afterward, the delegation followed to the Critical Media lab for a presentation where they saw unique projects linked to Swissnex’s international network due to the connection made that day. The HEK welcomed the group with a tour of their exhibition “Earthbound – dialogue with Nature,” where it was observed how new technologies are used as a medium to showcase different observations of nature and open further discussions.

The CRITICAL MEDIA LAB (CML) is a community, a space and a platform for research and practice at the intersections of design, media, art and technology, situated in Basel (CH).

On Thursday, the Roadshow brought all managers to the French part of Switzerland to meet with the team at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL). It was great to meet some of the people Swissnex has been working with the past months in person! Unique projects open important questions on the use of electronics and how smartphones and apps control each one’s life. New technologies are not the main subject of their work. It is used as a tool to communicate the current problems of our society.

Friday, the group got inspired by La Becque Art Residency, where they got to speak with Luc Meier, former collaborator at Swissnex in San Francisco. Then, the delegation met with film partners in Geneva. Geneva International Film Festival, Cinéforom, and Swiss Films have been working with virtual reality and the internationalization of movies, which is always of interest to the field.

Last, Laeticia Bochud and Caecilia Charbonnier invited the group to experiment with an XR adventure at Dreamscape. The research company Artanim connected to this project was presented and talked about their success story with Swissnex in the past.

The roadshow was an excellent experience for Art & Science Managers to get familiarized with the work in the Swiss landscape. It is essential to better understand what our partners need in order to shape our programming in response to it. The Program Managers and innovation teams need this strong connection with the research, the labs, and the art scene, to understand and create with intention projects that make sense and work for the Swiss ecosystem. Being able to be inspired and continuously learning is crucial!