La Laboratoire

There is no precise category for this post, because it is about La Laboratoire, a new effort housed in Paris that explicitly and actively undermines the impoverished art/science divide. NPR ran a story about it last week, while Science published a review of it the week before that.

The "lab" was founded by Harvard bioengineer David Edwards. It is meant to foster opportunities for "artscience," wherein the center (to quote the Science review of it) "aims to give scientists space for creative thinking outside the constraints of specialization and grant applications." Sounds interesting enough, though I can't get any info from their website (which is going wild, on the fritz, as I try to click on it). I thus can't tell if it's the Science review which makes it *sound like* a uni-directional effort -- that scientists get some chances to work with artists, that artists get the chance to respond to science, that the collaborations are efforts of art-infused science -- or if it's really that way. I take it from Edward's phrase "artscience" that it is meant to be mutual, and I take it from the NPR story that it's an imaginative and commendable project. But I'm simply not sure if it goes beyond finding new ways to aid scientific pursuits. In the end, science and art are both manifestations of culture. Perhaps Le Laboratoire does go beyond finding new ways to aid scientific pursuits and, instead, finds new ways to aid cultural activity, of which both art and science are famous examples. Otherwise, as Jonah Lehrer points out with great clarity and imagination in Proust was a Neuroscientist, we're just pedaling more two-culture debates down the road.

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The website is still on the fritz. I wonder if you need a special browser or plug-in?

This effort seems just down my alley - at least with me as an amateur artist and a professional scientist interested in the two/multi culture issue... I would hate to see this effort as top-heavy: a lot of publicity and support up front without follow-through.