Creativity and Community at the Intersection of Art and Science

October 4, 2023

Left: Laboratory Art in Practice team members work with bioplastics in the lab; Right: Microbial art created by the team (Photos courtesy of the Laboratory Art in Practice team)
Left: Laboratory Art in Practice team members work with bioplastics in the lab; Right: Microbial art created by the team (Photos courtesy of the Laboratory Art in Practice team)

How can scientific lab practices inform creative work and arts-based research, and vice versa?

To explore the intersection of art and science, the Laboratory Art in Practice team investigated different models of lab and studio practice, with a particular focus on how these models might amplify scientific inquiry and creative research. 

The team produced a database of artists and labs working at this intersection, as well as the publications, galleries and cultural institutions that support them. Team members also examined historical, ethical and social descriptions of experimental practices in scientific studies, explored lab techniques such as microscopy, dissection and working with microbes, and studied works of art that incorporate instruments and practices from the life sciences.

Team members working with foldoscopes
Team members working with foldoscopes

Finally, team members developed lab-based artistic research projects, culminating in an exhibition in the French Family Science Center.

The resulting et al lab at Duke will host workshops, public lectures, exhibitions and discussions, and aims to scaffold research and creative practice at the intersection of art and science.

Exhibit poster and table in the French Family Science Center in April 2023
Exhibit poster and table in the French Family Science Center in April 2023

“There is a misconception that art lacks the structure to be considered methodological and that science is too rigorous to leave enough room for true creativity. I fundamentally believe they are complementary areas of study, and this Bass Connections team dedicated to working at this intersection quickly became one of my favorite classes at Duke. I found not only a community of individuals who shared similar interests but also a supportive structure for engaging in projects that aligned with my curiosities.” –Noelle Garrick, Undergraduate Student in Computer Science and Visual Arts

Check out this team’s profile in our Virtual Showcase; read Noelle Garrick’s reflection on her work with the Laboratory Art in Practice team; and explore more 2022-2023 team outcomes in the Bass Connections Annual Report!

Learn More