Art-Science: An Annotated Bibliography


We are witnessing a resurgence of creative and scholarly work that seeks to bridge science and engineering with the arts, design, and the humanities. These practices connect both the arts and sciences, hence the term art-science, and the arts and the engineering sciences and technology, hence the term “art and technology.” Ever since we have divided knowledge into ways of knowing, with disciplinary approaches that focus on specific fields, there has been a need to link the fields and methodologies periodically. The branches of the tree of knowledge, however, inevitably grow apart. Today we are realizing that the dynamic network of knowledge, or a field of fields, provides a more fluid metaphor; unfortunately, our organizations are still mostly organized in tree structures. Consequently, the art-science literature necessarily addresses both creative and scholarly work, and their methodologies, as well as social and institutional issues that enable or block such work.

In the early nineteenth century, Alexander von Humboldt, one of the found-ers of modern observational science, insisted on a productive fusion of the sciences, arts, and humanities in his vision of the “Kosmos” (see Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, Knopf, 2015). In the late nineteenth century, T. H. Huxley argued for the introduction of science as a required subject in the United Kingdom at a time when education was steeped in the classics, with little science. Surprisingly, he tied ability in scientific research to competency in arts and crafts (see T. H. Huxley on Education: A Selection from His Writings, ed. Cyril Bibby, Cambridge Texts and Studies in the History of Education, Cambridge University Press, 2010). In these periods, the arts, humanities, and classics were dominant educational tropes, whereas of course today, in our techno-scientific society, the balance is reversed.

As longtime executive editor of Leonardo Publications (MIT Press), I have witnessed during the past ten years a sociological expansion of art-science-technology work. In particular the emergence of numerous programs in higher education that reflect, and drive interest within, government and industry is surprising, with an emergent cohort of young professionals under the age of thirty-five. A thriving ecology of maker, hacker, and coworking spaces embeds such work in local and community settings that bring to the fore a diversity of methods and scholarship.

I sometimes caricature this growth by intoning the mantra, “art, science, technology, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurs, employment,” as questions of the humanities, well-being, ethics, and value systems often remain inconspicuous. The current surge in interest, sometimes called “STEM to STEAM” in the United States, is driven largely by three simple side effects of digital culture. (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. See The phrase STEM to STEAM emerged during workshops organized by the US National Science Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities. It was articulated in particular by John Maeda and his colleagues at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Rhode Island Congressional delegation. The discussion lead to the formation of the STEAM Caucus in the US Congress.

First, shared technologies entrain shared epistemologies and ontologies, reminding us of the arguments of both actor-network theory in the social sciences and embodied cognition. Second, digital tools and networks enable new forms and modes of collaboration. Finally, the development of significant employment in what used to be called the “creative” industries—more generally the new industries emerging from digital culture—has attracted the attention of policymakers.

Staying abreast of interdisciplinary developments is always challenging. Terminologies are unstable, as for example with the evolution of terms such as kinetic art, experimental film, video art, electronic art, digital art, computer art, interactive art, new media art, and so on. (The Electronic Literature Organization has developed taxonomy and terminology projects tied to the semantic web; The loci of creative work and scholarship are similarly unstable, with no standard model or curriculum comparable to what has developed in better-defined disciplinary fields. Institutional innovation and evolution, however, have been rapid: key institutions, such as György Kepes’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, the research facilities at Bell Labs, and Xerox PARC have come and gone. New institutions have been springing up, from ArtsCatalyst in London and the Science Gallery in Dublin to the PSL SACRe program in Paris dedicated to research and pedagogy in the field (see,, and New professional organizations are also emerging, such as the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities ( A growing literature that studies these groups has emerged over the last fifty years (see, for instance, Craig Harris, Art and Innovation: The Xerox PARC Artist-in-Residence Program, MIT Press, 1999), while a number of historians—among them Linda Henderson, Oliver Grau, Patrick McCray, Erkki Huhtamo, and Edward Shanken—are developing a new literature.

In this annotated bibliography, I provide a snapshot of resources that are useful starting points. I apologize for the selective nature of this compilation and openly declare my conflict of interest for pointing to several projects in which I have been involved through the Leonardo Publications program. A second bias is that I myself was originally trained in the physical sciences, hence many of these references are from scientists advocating art-science work; there are many asymmetries in the field of fields and, perhaps surprisingly, art-and-design-led art-science programs are more developed in general that those in science-led institutions. (An important development in the past few years, under the leadership of the US National Academy of Sciences and its cultural director J. D. Talasek, has been the Academy’s monthly art-science discussion series DASER; see

Steve Wilson, Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002)

I have chosen to start with the work of the late Steve Wilson, an artist who successfully synthesizes the rapidly expanding landscape. He captures the transition in the late 1990s, when artists began investing their energies in fields of science beyond digital technologies. As Wilson points out, one of the surprising areas that rapidly saw art-science work was the intersection of art and biology. The pioneering work of artists such as Joe Davis, Eduardo Kac, George Gessert, and Natalie Jeremijenko has expanded with the labs of Symbiotica ( and Suzanne Anker, as well as the practice of Ellen Levy and the Trust Me I’m an Artist consortium in Europe ( (See also Meta Life, compiled by Yvan Tina, a companion site to a Leonardo anthology on the topic: Wilson details how artists, often using digital arts as a lingua franca, are now working in astronomy and space exploration, ecology, physics, and almost all areas of science. His book was an early advocate of research practice in art and the practice-based (or research-led) PhD in art and design (see

Jill Scott, ed., Artists-in-Labs: Processes of Inquiry (Vienna: Springer, 2006)

Numerous books document specific art-science initiatives, for instance the movement to host artists in research laboratories. This book is the first of several that Jill Scott has published on the latter phenomenon. Her anthology documents the work of artists in research labs in Switzerland. Part of the Planetary Collegium program established by Roy Ascott, a pioneer in telematic art (, This volume is characteristic of books that document both the process of art-science collaboration and the production of work to be exhibited or performed. Anthropologists such as James Leach have investigated the terrain, and the artists-in-labs field has expanded recently with large institutions such as CERN imitating such residencies ( and Other examples are the Djerassi Foundation art-science residencies ( and the European Southern Observatory initiative, described below.

Roger F. Malina, Carol Strohecker, and Carol LaFayette, eds., Steps to an Ecology of Networked Knowledge and Innovation: Enabling New Forms of Collaboration among Sciences, Engineering, Arts, and Design (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012; for a free PDF, see

A recent report of relevance, the result of a project I chaired—I need to declare again my conflict of interest—develops in depth the ongoing transdisciplinary trends. The report identifies thirteen processes the contributors view as enabling the conditions for interesting art-science or art-technology work. These include “embedding”—the need for public engagement and negotiation to break out of the hermetic world within which science and engineering are discussed in order to connect with the larger context of the digital, open science, and citizen science movements. A second is “translating”—or problem-driven connections among academic, commercial, and civil societies—which highlights the deep differences in methodology among the academic disciplines and which is magnified when work is translated to commercial or public spaces. The report carried out limited demographic analysis, pointing to an emerging, growing group of “hybrid” individuals who have higher-education training and a career in the arts, design, or humanities and a second professional training and a career in a field of science or engineering. The spread of art-science projects and programs is international, with initiatives in South Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. The Ars Electronica European Digital Arts and Sciences Network has recently been launched, including collaboration with the European Southern Observatory in Chile ( The European Union Science Technology and the Arts (STARTS) initiative has emerged recently as a sponsor of such work ( More theoretically, the “interdisciplinary turn” has itself been under intense study in the area of Translation Studies (as in the work of Doris Bachmann-Medick,

There is a growing literature, and some stabilization of the terminology, on interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity (as in the work of Allen F. Repko, coauthor of several books on interdisciplinarity; see the list at Francois-Joseph Lapointe coined the term “paradisciplinarity” for the work of hybrid individuals like himself; he holds PhDs in molecular biology and in dance ( These discussions focus on the need to establish collaboration methodologies and training, but also to draw on design thinking approaches, which avoid disciplinary framing in favor of problem- or inquiry-driven strategies. One example is a new book by the computer scientist Ben Shneiderman.

Ben Shneiderman, The New ABCs of Research: Achieving Breakthrough Collaborations (Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Shneiderman has a long history of innovation, particularly in areas of human-computer interaction. His particular angle in this book is the articulation of two core principles, ABC and SED. The Applied and Basic Combined (ABC) principle argues that projects that pursue both basic and applied goals at the same time have a higher chance of producing advances in both areas. The Science Engineering and Design (SED) principle argues that blending the methods of science, engineering, and design produces work of greater impact. SED, the integration of art and design practices, consolidates a forty-year evolution during which researchers and corporations came to understand the weakness embedded in corporate human–computer interface thinking and methodologies. Shneiderman notes that a number of art and design schools have become prominent training grounds for technology professionals, including the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths College at the University of London, the Rhode Island School of Art and Design—birthplace of the STEM to STEAM argument—and the Savannah College of Art and Design. John Maeda of RISD has recently pointed out that design companies are now acquisition targets of Silicon Valley companies. The book includes useful case studies and exemplars that are helpful to understand the practical ways through which theoretical ideas are translated to practice.

Committee on the Science of Team Science; Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; and National Research Council, Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science, ed. Nancy J. Cooke and Margaret L. Hilton (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2015; for a free PDF, see

This US National Academies of Science report from the Science of Team Science movement is a particularly useful summary of the state of the art for collaboration methodologies. Although focused on the medical sciences, many of the techniques and methods are applicable to collaborations that bridge the arts and sciences. The report documents the dramatic growth of teamwork and team size in the sciences and engineering, and also recently in the social sciences. Useful documentation of social science studies demonstrates that heterogeneous teams (with respect to gender, age, discipline, and ethnicity) are more likely to show unusual productivity than those that are homogeneous. Separate chapters address techniques and methods for online and for non-colocated collaborations (for practical training and best-practice manuals, see The work of artists coupled to science and engineering also shows the growth and development of collaborative practices. The literature is full of appeals to the terminology, often attributed to the design company IDEO, that identifies “T-shaped” and “Pi-shaped” individuals, with deep disciplinary knowledge in one or two disciplines, as well as broader expertise that facilitates and enables deep collaboration.

Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2005; for a free PDF, see

This report originated within the science and engineering community, where the same issue of how to enable appropriate transdisciplinary work has long been debated. It and others have led to significant investment by the Keck Foundation in the Futures Initiatives, which recently included the arts and design in its remit (

The focus on the need for public engagement is the result of an evolution from an emphasis on education to informal education, from outreach to public engagement. These issues are developed in depth by social scientists such as Helga Nowotny, a former president of the European Research Council, who advocates the development of “socially robust” knowledge (

Helga Nowotny, The Cunning of Uncertainty (Cambridge, UK, and Malden, MA: Polity, 2015)

Nowotny’s recent book continues the line of argument about changes needed in the social embedding and risk-averse culture of much of science and engineering today. The coupling to the arts and humanities is part of a creativity and innovation rationale.

The observation on the growing number of “hybrid” individuals is situated within the larger field of creativity and innovation studies. One example is the work of Robert Root-Bernstein, whose series of longitudinal studies of successful scientists and engineers has fed into these debates (

Robert Root-Bernstein, “Arts Foster Scientific Success: Avocations of Nobel, National Academy, Royal Society and Sigma XI Members,” Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology 1, no. 2 (2008): 51–63, and at

This study examines all Nobel laureates between 1901 and 2005, and members of the National Academy of Science, the Royal Society, and Sigma XI. It argues for a correlation between success as a scientist and evidence of a simultaneous art or craft avocation. Additionally, a large number of artists and musicians show an avocation for science. This finding has important policy implications in light of the marginalization of arts in most curricula and connects to the thinking of Humboldt and Huxley in the nineteenth century. The challenge is articulating the causation pathways rather than the existence of correlations. Root-Bernstein has recently concluded a massive review of all the existing studies demonstrating the effectiveness of integrating arts, music, performing, crafts, and design into science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical education. The US National Academies of science, engineering, and medicine have launched a two-year study seeking to review the current activity and the evidence of the benefits, and to make policy recommendations.

One thread of the discourse is the revival of the two cultures debate reinitiated by C. P. Snow in 1959 (with which I am generally unsympathetic), in particular the promotion of a “third culture” concept exemplified by the recent work of John Brockman and Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, These approaches bring in cultural and media studies to understand the current developments, and the literature is rich with a mixture of the work of scholars and practitioners themselves. See for example:

Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, ed., Towards the Third Culture: The Co-Existence of Art, Science and Technology (Gdansk: Center for Contemporary Art, 2011; a free bilingual Polish-English PDF is available after registration atński).

The particularities of art-science practice today include the intentional mixing of conceptual and research work, the creation of original artwork, and innovation in disseminating the results. These mixed practices, with multimodal goals, were largely developed in England during the “creative industries” movement of the 1990s, in programs at the Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths, and other art and design schools in Europe. An example of this approach to which I was recently introduced is the work of PhD student Emile de Visscher, a well-explicated mix of theoretical and conceptual work; it ranges from prototyping concepts in works which can be viewed both as art installations and technological prototypes, to experimental publication of results by a community of practice. In this case de Visscher’s work is deeply embedded in local social issues, seeking to develop alternative ideas on the creation of industries that are part of the “slow innovation” approach (

Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, eds., Art @ Science (Vienna and New York: Springer, 1998)

Within the art-science creative community we see exemplars such as Sommerer and her husband, Mignonneau, at the University of Art and Design in Vienna ( I note in passing the number of prominent married couples involved, such as Woody and Steina Vasulka, and Helen and Newton Harrison, but also numerous small and large teams. Some artists whose work requires technological innovation have oscillated between academia, industrial settings, and private practice, with the development of artworks that often require technological innovation. The “third culture” is then a praxis that involves a change of context and a fluidity between differing objectives in the projects, rather than a theoretical construct as exemplified by the writings of, say, the biologist E. O. Wilson.

Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (New York: Knopf, dist. Random House, 1998)

Wilson’s synthetic approach appropriates the term “consilience” from William Whewell’s two-volume Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), where it has the sense of the fusion of two or more lines of induction drawn from different sets of phenomena. Wilson lays out an agenda for a grand unification of different strands of knowledge, to bridge the arts and sciences and begin to erase the false boundary separating the social from the natural sciences. One has the sense that, for him, approaches to verifiable knowledge will be scientific; the debate is deeply engaged and can be acrimonious with the emergence of digital humanities and now, “cultural science.” Champions of portions of Wilson’s agenda include the art historian Maximilian Schich, who charts cultural history and evolution using data science techniques; he has recently published a YouTube video that has now had a million views (“Charting Culture” at For Wilson, the evocation of the meaning and quality of life and experience will continue to be the province of the arts, their appreciation enhanced by an informed criticism newly aware of their cultural, cognitive science, and genetic bases. In this concept of consilience, the divides between the transcendental and qualitative, the empirical, and a quantitative basis for ethics will vanish. Arguing against this grand holistic vision are not only artists and scholars in the humanities, but also scientists who are wary of “grand unification” theories.

Edward Slingerland and Mark Collard, eds., Creating Consilience: Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities (Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)

This multiauthor volume rethinks the consilience issue, arguing rather for integrative common grounds (such as integrating over time scales of study, or physical scales). The editors advocate a “second wave consilience that aims to move beyond eliminative reductionism to respect emergent levels of truth” (24–28), “move beyond the nature-nurture debate to recognize the importance of gene-culture co-evolution” (28–30), and “move beyond disciplinary chauvinism to recognize that consilience is a two-way street” (30–34). They foreground the fact that underlying assumptions, such as mind-body dualism, must inevitably be examined.

Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond, La Science n’est pas l’art : Brèves rencontres (Paris: Hermann, 2010)

One articulate proponent of the “separate but equal” view of art and science is the physicist Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, editor of the French interdisciplinary journal Alliage ( In this book—not yet available in English translation—he vigorously defends the epistemic boundaries between the arts and sciences, advocating rather the mechanism of “creative friction” between artists and scientists in, to use his term, “brèves rencontres.”

A growing literature documents the key postwar initiatives such as the exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity (organized by Jasia Reichardt, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 1968), the Experiments in Art and Technology movement, and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies that became the Art, Culture, and Technology program at MIT. In addition, a growing number of historians are analyzing and contextualizing the various developments. One historically significant report is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s 1971 Report on the Art and Technology Program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967–1971, 1971 ( A key art historian in the field is Linda Henderson, whose seminal monograph of 1983 has recently been updated:

Linda Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art, rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013)

Henderson traces the history of interaction between artists, scientists, and engineers from the nineteenth century to the present. A key period is the beginning of the twentieth century, when artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, László Moholy-Nagy, and Kazimir Malevich were familiar with contemporary work in physics and mathematics on higher dimensionality and relativity theory. Interest by artists in the spatial fourth dimension experienced a resurgence during the later 1950s and 1960s, and the growing impact of this new conception of space figures in the writings and work of Irene Rice-Pereira, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Smithson, and the Park Place Gallery group of the 1960s. Later, with the development in the 1980s of both string theory in physics (with its ten- or eleven-dimensional universes) and computer graphics, artists were able to appropriate both the concepts and the formalisms, as seen in work by Tony Robbin and the digital architect Marcos Novak. More recently, the string theorist Lisa Randall has collaborated with the composer Hèctor Parra to produce the new-media opera Hypermusic Prologue: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes (for a review, seeèctor-parra-hypermusic-prologue-mw0001975010). One driver of these new forms of art-science practice is the convening of art and science communities: although they are often sequestered in their own disciplinary practices, the thresholds for collaboration have been lowered due to internet connectivity. The crucial nature of the convening was emphasized in the report described above, “Steps to an Ecology of Networked Knowledge and Innovation.” The mechanism for such convening is often socially centered, as was the case at the turn of the nineteenth century. In his book Art and Physics: Parallel  Visions in Space, Time, and Light (New York: Morrow, 1993), Leonard Shlain demonstrates how changes in music and literature synchronized with those occurring in art and physics through the interaction of social circles.

Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (New York: Random House, 2012)

In addition to the rapid development of collaborations between artists and biological scientists, one finds the interaction of the arts with the neurosciences and cognitive sciences. Drawing on contemporary neurobiology, initial explorations by, for instance, Semir Zeki and Jean-Pierre Changeux resulted in the area now called neuroaesthetics. In Age of Insight, the medical science Nobel laureate and neuropsychiatrist Kandel retraces the interactions of art and science in Vienna at the turn of the last century, where artists and scientists from Sigmund Freud to Oskar Kokoshka argued that “only by going below surface appearances can we find reality” (16). He contends that this period is a good exemplar for what is possible today, as at that time leading artists and philosophers were also influenced by this research, thanks to the intellectual melting-pot provided by the university, coffee-houses, and private salons in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Their exchanges led to ideas that were exploited by the scientists and the artists alike. The book is a refreshing historical contextualization of current art-science developments and in particular argues for avoiding a narrowing to “art in service of science” or the reverse.

In closing let me point to some resources to which I have contributed and that may be of interest.

Leonardo LABS Abstracts:

The Leonardo Abstracts Service project created and run by the artist Sheila Pinkel is a database of titles and abstracts of PhD, MA, and MFA theses in the art-science-technology field. The database is collaboratively filtered through an annual call for authors to deposit their thesis abstracts, and a peer review committee that reads and ranks them (

Other Bibliographies:

Over the years Leonardo has solicited and published annotated bibliographies on topics such as developments in the Soviet Union, synesthesia, and space and the arts, all under the rubric of Leonardo Art, Science and Technology Bibliographies. The latest is by Richard Wirth on ProSocial Gaming. There is an open call for bibliographies ( Another relevant annotated bibliography is Kathryn Evans’s “Curriculum Development in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities” (CDASH, at Finally, I note a useful academic networking group, the Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF), which is an affiliate member project of the College Art Association and is currently chaired by J. D. Talasek, of the US National Academy of Science (

It is appropriate to mention here the growing art-science “field of fields,” in particular, to note the place in the intellectual landscape of “gray literature.” Reviewing citations in books and journals, one observes an increase in references to material that is self-published by members of the creative community, the organizations, and networks in forms that do not go through traditional publishing or review processes. This grow-ing professional literature, termed “gray literature,” is ephemeral, perhaps, yet highly influential; in addition, several efforts are under way to aggregate the more influential material with some form of selectivity, such as the ARTECA aggregator (

Please note that all URLs in this bibliography were current as of June 28, 2016.

I would like to acknowledge the rewarding collaborations with the SEAD working group: Carol Lafayette, Carol Strohecker, and Robert Thill, and with my colleagues at Leonardo/OLATS Annick Bureaud and Yvan Tina.

Roger F. Malina is an astrophysicist, editor, and art-science researcher based in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas. He has served for thirty-five years as executive editor of Leonardo Publications at MIT Press.