„Cross­ing Art & Sci­ence” is a new series of events orga­nized by the „Kraftwerk — Cen­ter for Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Research” and ACADEMIA SUPERIOR for the exchange of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and trans­dis­ci­pli­nary research, which will take place twice a year at the Tabak­fab­rik Linz. A top­ic is illu­mi­nat­ed from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives in art and sci­ence. „Cross­ing Art & Sci­ence” brings togeth­er artists, aca­d­e­mics and actors of the prac­tice to ini­ti­ate exchange, net­work­ing and poten­tial coop­er­a­tion across dis­ci­pli­nary bound­aries. On 6.11. The kick-off event for the new series took place.

Interdisciplinarity is the key for understanding the world

At the open­ing-event, Rek­tor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Mein­hard Lukas from the Johannes Kepler Uni­ver­si­ty Linz and mem­ber of the advi­so­ry board of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR and Rek­tor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rein­hard Kan­non­ier from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Art and Design Linz, talked about inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty in the Upper Aus­tri­an uni­ver­si­ty-land­scape: „Inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty lies in the genes of our uni­ver­si­ties, now we are work­ing to inten­si­fy this even fur­ther”, said Mein­hard Lukas and Rein­hard Kan­non­ier added: „There is enor­mous poten­tial for sci­ence in the con­nec­tion with art, and I am con­vinced that if the uni­ver­si­ties in Linz coop­er­ate more, then this will go up like a rock­et.”

„The world has become too com­plex to be explained only from one point of view.” — Azra Akšami­ja

Fur­ther impuls­es could be obtained from MIT pro­fes­sor Azra Akšami­ja. She heads the Future Her­itage Lab at the pres­ti­gious Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy. At MIT, inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty has been suc­cess­ful­ly inte­grat­ed into research-work for decades. The inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned MIT Media Lab even uses anti-dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty as an approach to con­scious­ly attract those top­ics and researchers that do not fit into tra­di­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­plines.

Plea for a new research culture

For Azra Akšami­ja, inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty is the „key to answer­ing the ques­tions of the future, because the world has become too com­plex to be explained only from one point of view”. The col­lab­o­ra­tion of the sci­en­tif­ic dis­ci­plines also brings new chal­lenges at the lev­el of research-infra­struc­ture, inter­per­son­al-work and dif­fer­ent sci­en­tif­ic meth­ods. Espe­cial­ly in an artis­tic approach, the inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned artist with Bosn­ian-Aus­tri­an roots sees „a pos­si­bil­i­ty to bring the dif­fer­ent research par­a­digms more in har­mo­ny”.

Additions to the subject of speed

The launch of Cross­ing Art & Sci­ence #1 was themed „Speed”. Four sci­en­tists from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines gave sev­en-minute insights into their research from the per­spec­tive of speed:

Ass.-Prof. DI(FH) Mar­i­anne Pührerfell­ner, Visu­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Depart­ment of the Art Uni­ver­si­ty of Linz, explained that visu­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs a pleas­ant rhythm to func­tion well. Visu­al sym­bols are nor­mal­ly used to make human com­mu­ni­ca­tion quick­er and eas­i­er. For exam­ple, three strokes — the so-called Ham­burg­er Menu Icon — have estab­lished on the Inter­net as a visu­al code in order to quick­ly find the menu of a web­site. Sim­ply invent­ing new sym­bols often over­strains visu­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion. To use and re-occu­py of already well-known sym­bols usu­al­ly works bet­ter, said Pührerfell­ner. „The cru­cial ques­tion, how­ev­er, is whether inter­per­son­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion will be able to keep up with the much faster com­mu­ni­ca­tion between machines in the future”, the researcher empha­sized.

Univ. Dr. Anna Minta, Insti­tute for the His­to­ry and The­o­ry of Archi­tec­ture at the Catholic Pri­vate Uni­ver­si­ty Linz, said that exces­sive speed can lead to a stand­still in space. Espe­cial­ly in archi­tec­ture, peo­ple are afraid of rad­i­cal inno­va­tions. Often the visu­al desire for old and famil­iar archi­tec­tur­al styles dom­i­nates. This may be a back­lash to „the per­cep­tion of accel­er­a­tion and inex­orable progress in moder­ni­ty”, says Minta. His­tor­i­cal asso­ci­a­tions could have an impor­tant psy­cho­log­i­cal func­tion for humans in deal­ing with or pro­cess­ing with rapid tech­ni­cal and social changes.

Sander Hof­s­tee, BA, Cre­ative Robot­ics Lab of the Linz Art Uni­ver­si­ty, intro­duced the dif­fi­cul­ties of teach­ing robots to play gui­tar and explained why it all depends on decel­er­a­tion and accel­er­a­tion as well as per­fect inter­ac­tion. One prob­lem is to trans­fer the move­ments of the human hands and the ten fin­gers to two robot arms with­out fin­gers. In addi­tion, the arms must move in har­mo­ny with each oth­er in the right tact to pro­duce music.

Dr. Karin Bruck­müller, Insti­tut für Strafrechtswis­senschaften at the JKU Linz, dis­cussed the dif­fer­ent speeds of tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion and leg­is­la­tion. She posed the ques­tion of how quick­ly the law must be able to change to pro­mote and not to hin­der tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion. This was made clear­er by the exam­ple of crim­i­nal law issues in the case of acci­dents involv­ing autonomous vehi­cles. For exam­ple, as the ques­tion of guilt in an acci­dent involv­ing a self-dri­ving car has not yet been clar­i­fied, devel­op­ers have to work in a legal gray area. This hin­ders inno­va­tion in this field. Bruck­müller made it clear: „We need to clar­i­fy who will be to blame for an acci­dent in the future: the dri­ver who can not inter­vene, the pro­gram­mer who wrote the algo­rithm, or maybe the arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent car itself, because nobody could pre­dict why the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence has made this or that deci­sion?”

The enter­tain­ing pre­sen­ta­tions were fol­lowed by a joint dis­cus­sion with the audi­ence about the chal­lenges inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty pos­es for the uni­ver­si­ties of Linz. It was empha­sized that researchers have to reflect the bound­aries of their dis­ci­plines to be more open to dia­logue with oth­ers.

The event series „Cross­ing Art and Sci­ence” will take place twice a year in coop­er­a­tion between the Kraftwerk — Cen­ter for Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Research, Art & Sci­ence and the ACADEMIA SUPERIOR — Gesellschaft für Zukun­fts­forschung