In February of this year, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, a zygote of an institution nestled between departments at Carnegie Mellon University, to work on a strange collaborative project called a “booksprint.” A booksprint, I discovered, is a fairly new practice, derived from the world of open-source software “codesprints.” In this version, a group of writers work exhaustively for a week on a shared project, which is then made into a book at the conclusion of their session. In seven days, our group of sprinters turned an idea–”let’s write a book about the intersection between art, science, and technology!”–into a 190-page, full-color, nattily-designed compendium of the current moment in art/science affinities.
We wrote collaboratively in shared, networked documents, ensuring that the finished book would have no single author. Of course, we all have our specialities: Régine Debatty the international new media blogger was our encyclopedia of projects, Andrea Grover the project leader our thesis synthesizer, Pablo Garcia the image-hounding art history scholar, and, well, you can see my pawprints all over the sections on science fiction, utopian architecture, and visionary philosophy.
We worked passionately, discussed endlessly, enlisted the research assistance of dozens of interns, and the finished project emerged (relatively) without incident. I still can’t believe that a group of erstwhile strangers could so swiftly and seamlessly brainstorm, structure, research, and design something of such substance from nothing.
That said, it’s been many months since we left Pittsburgh to return to the hectic pace of our normal lives. What was created in a week has taken nearly a year to fine-tune, but I’m immensely proud to announce that we’re finally finished. Behold, NA/SA: New Art/Science Affinities, a book about the intersection between art, science, and technology.
The book includes meditations, interviews, diagrams, letters and manifestos on maker culture, hacking, artist research, distributed creativity, and technological and speculative design. Sixty international artists and art collaboratives are featured, including Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Atelier Van Lieshout, Brandon Ballengée, Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, The Institute for Figuring, Aaron Koblin, Machine Project, Openframeworks, C.E.B. Reas, Philip Ross, Tomás Saraceno, SymbioticA, Jer Thorp, and Marius Watz.
NA/SA was designed as it was written by Jessica Young and Luke Bulman of Thumb Projects. Immeasurable credit is due to them for organizing the endless flow of text into readable, beautiful documents at the end of each workday. Doubtless we would’ve had an arduous time marshaling our ideas had Thumb not been involved from the get-go.
More about the book and its process at Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery website. New Art/Science Affinities can be bought printed on demand at Lulu.com, or you can download a free, full-text PDF of the book right here. I encourage you to browse, study, and print the free PDF, but the tactile book is a joy to hold.