SloAS (Studio‐Lab of Art & Science) is a platform for diverse practitioners to traverse the boundaries of the art and science, exploring the possibilities for purposeful change and enduring collaborations where these two fields meet. The flagship of SLoAS project is an intensive workshop that brings together students from different disciplines in order to explore new ways of seeing and understanding our world. Its goal is to plant the seed of interdisciplinary collaboration by putting them together in the same ‘room’ for project creation.
Hinging around a given theme, the programme takes place in both ‘lab’ (technology/science) and ‘studio’ (art) environments comprising of thinking‐strategy sessions, practical inductions, expert mentoring, critique of works, informative talks and experimental workshop time, resulting in a final showcase.
In 10th to 14th of June 2019, SLoAS presented its first event, 3.14 Realities. It brought together students from the MA Art & Science at Central Saint Martins and the BSc Digital Media Development at the University of Westminster, for a creative week of work that was shared between both campuses and included workshops, guest talks, mentoring session and finally a pop‐up public event on Friday 14th of June at the Exposed Arts Projects.
Inspired by the fact that nowadays we expand our presence to the physical, psychological and virtual reality, the participants were invited to imagine what the tools of understanding their environment could be, should they lack the access to one of the three realities. Τhe students responded to the brief by creating the Akimbo project which was consisted of three parts; the first was a statement about the fact that our Physical Self will carry on changing while our Data Self, will potentially remain unchanged – an idea that was expressed with a small installation of melting candles, copies of 3D prints of the 3D scans for the participants; the second was a question about how our Physical/Psychological Self can relate to our Virtual/Augmented Self – the guests were invited to interact and imitate the sequence of repeating moves that the participants’ AR Selves were performing ‘in’ the room; the third and final part of the project was an experiment on the capability of an AR portable performance app to effect the mood of the user – the AR performance, of the second part, was loaded on smartphones where the guests were invited to interact with the given AR targets. This is an ongoing experiment.
The presentation and workshops of the first day were hosted at the CSM Archway Campus, offering the chance to the guest students from UoW to take a glance of how the art studios and workshops work there. The fertile initial ideas boosted by the workshops led by Cai Zhang, Associate Lecturer at the MA Art & Science CSM, followed the participants during the week and gave birth to their final projects.
The second day included a 4-hour long induction to AR/VR at the XRLab at UoW were the students of CSM were able to learn the basic functions of both technologies. Later on the day, they had themselves 3D scanned and 3D printed! Jeff Ferguson, the leader of the XRLab along with his team of technicians were very supportive to the project and they on their turn inspired the participating students.
The third day, which was at the middle of the programme included three guest talks that would help the participants form more questions about the ‘why’’s of the Akimbo project and develop it towards the end of the week. The first talk which was given by Adrian Holme, Associate Lecturer at CSM and CCA, was about the AI and the idea of the human, a view seen through myth, metaphor and agency. Later on, the Phd Researcher from UCL, Pablo-Fernandez Velasco, talked about ‘Making and breaking our shared world’ and specifically artistic and scientific approaches to effective resonance and world-making. After a small break the last talk followed, one by Gonçalo Lopes Director of NeuroGears and Danbee Kim a PhD researcher at the Sainsbury-Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour. Their talk was about Neuronauts a project that aims to empower young minds with the skills necessary to follow their curiosity, question the knowns and face the unknowns, through the les of Neuroscience. The round table discussion that followed was vivid and all guests and tutors took part.
One of the highlights, was the Motion Capture session at the XRLab earlier on that day. All guests and participants were talked thought the process of that technique and this was how the Akimbo performance was transferred from its Physical presence to a Virtual one.
The fourth day was one of making, where half of the Akimbo project team worked at the Casting Workshop at CSM Kings Cross and the other half at the XRLab. All three parts of the project were finalised in order to be presented the day after.
On the last day of SLoAS 2019, the students curated the pop-up exhibition of their works at the Pit Room of the Exposed Arts Projects space. This was a public event where they talked about their project and were critiqued and mentored by Susan Aldworth Associate Lecturer at the MA Art & Science CSM and Dr. Daphne Economou Senior Lecturer at UoW. It was a day were everyone exchanged views for the Akimbo project and the overall experience of the interdisciplinary work mode between the students. The students of both courses were inspired by each other, impressed by the different ways of working and curious to carry on exploring the new media they go to know through the interaction with each-other. The day ended with a visit to the local pub and continuation of the conversation as well as thoughts about future projects and collaborations.
SLoAS started as a student initiative from a group of 2nd Year students at the MA Art & Science Central Saint Martins. After its pilot event, it aims to carry on, including more students and collaborators from across UAL, as well as other institutions and organisations. The further goal of SLoAS is to expand its network and establish an annual event that will become a point of reference among others in the field.
SLoAS 2019 was funded by the Student Initiative Fund (Arts Student Union) and supported by UAL, University of Westminster, XR Lab and the Exposed Arts Projects.