Art & Science Connections

An idea that spread programs revolving around Art-Science Connections1

Prepared by Diane Ullman

Billick and Ullman started the first art/science fusion course in 1996. With support from Provost Virginia Hinshaw, the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program was launched in 2006. During the 20 years since our “Ah‐Ha” moment, ideas around connecting art and science in education and innovation have grown internationally. In the following you will find some of the programs we have followed and researched. Herein we have provided links to each program and have excerpted text from their own websites. We encourage you to explore and to think about the unique program that makes sense for your organization or institution.

UCLA: The Art|Sci Center:

To pursue, facilitate and promote research and programs that demonstrate the potential of media arts and science collaborations.” The Art|Sci Center focuses on collaborative projects that address social, ethical and environmental issues related to scientific innovations. We are part of a world‐wide network of artists and scientists who are interested in philosophical dialogue as well as working together on artistic or applied projects. The Art|Sci Center presents exhibitions, lectures, mixers, and symposia to bring artists and scientists together in order to mesh these cultures and inspire individuals to think about art and science as already interrelated and relevant to our society. To this end we established a small gallery in the California NanoSystems Institute and a series of guest lectures called LASERs coordinated with undergraduate and graduate classes.

UC Berkeley: Center for New Media:

The Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM) is a focal point for research and teaching about new media, led by a highly trans‐disciplinary community of 120 affiliated faculty, advisors, and scholars, from 35 UC Berkeley departments, including Architecture, Philosophy, Film & Media, History of Art, Performance Studies, and Music; the Schools of Engineering, Information, Journalism, and Law; and the Berkeley Art Museum. BCNM is located at a global center for design and information technology and based in a public research university known for alternative thinking.

Our mission is to critically analyze and help shape developments in new media from crossdisciplinary and global perspectives that emphasize humanities and the public interest.

All media (Latin for “middle elements”) facilitate transformation: by definition, media are transformative. From the stone tablet to the printing press to the internet, media have become increasingly reconfigurable. The value of a medium is often related to its capacity for reconfiguration. To claim a medium as “new” is to posit a meaningful improvement over prior media. Thus new media are highly reconfigurable and doubly transformative: they achieve a transformation of prior modes of transformation.

While new media often produce new perceptions, new behaviors, and new insights, they remain deeply rooted in powerful aesthetic, cultural, and political forces. As media transform, they often distort. Sophocles observed that “nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” BCNM actively engages scholars who critically examine the opportunities and risks associated with new media and who consider how new media can constructively benefit education, political engagement, privacy, and aesthetic experience.

BCNM catalyzes research, educates future leaders, and facilitates public discourse through courses, lectures, symposia, and special events. BCNM has established cross‐disciplinary faculty positions and a special program for masters’ and Ph.D. students. The BCNM supports academic modes of scholarship while encouraging unorthodox artworks, designs, and experiments. By reaching out to students, researchers, industry figures, and the broader public, BCNM stimulates new perspectives on contemporary new media.

UC Santa Barbara: Media Arts and Technology:

Media Arts and Technology (MAT) at UCSB is a transdisciplinary graduate program that fuses emergent media, computer science, engineering, electronic music and digital art research, practice, production, and theory. Created by faculty in both the College of Engineering and the College of Letters and Science, MAT offers an unparalleled opportunity for working at the frontiers of art, science, and technology, where new art forms are born and new expressive media are invented.

In MAT, we seek to define and to create the future of media art and media technology. Our research explores the limits of what is possible in technologically sophisticated art and media, both from an artistic and an engineering viewpoint. Combining art, science, engineering, and theory, MAT graduate studies provide students with a combination of critical and technical tools that prepare them for leadership roles in artistic, engineering, production/direction, educational, and research contexts.

UC Santa Barbara: CREATE:

The UCSB Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) was established in 1986, and is situated within the Department of Music, as well as having strong ties to the Media Art and Technology program and the AlloSphere research facility. CREATE serves as a productive environment available to students, researchers, and media artists for the realization of music and multimedia works. We present several concerts per year of electroacoustic music. Courses are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels in collaboration with several departments. The center also serves as a laboratory for research and development of a new generation of software and hardware tools to aid in mediabased composition. CREATE is committed to maintaining the highest possible level of artistic and technological capability. Professional composers will find the center a productive place to realize their works. Among those who have made use of our facilities are Iannis Xenakis, Thea Musgrave, Bebe Barron, Zbigniew Karkowski and Robert Morris.

MIT Media Lab:

(John Maeda started this in the late 90s before becoming the president of RISD in 2008)

  • Year founded: 1985
  • Graduate concentration: Media Arts and Sciences
  • Number of graduate students (2015‐2016): 164 (89 master’s, 75 PhD)
  • Number of faculty and principal investigators: 26
  • Number of members: 80+
  • Annual operating budget: approx. $60 million

Actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. It creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Lab work in 24 research groups on more than 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to a stackable, electric car for sustainable cities, to advanced imaging technologies that can “see around a corner.” The Lab is committed to looking beyond the obvious to ask the questions not yet asked–questions whose answers could radically improve the way people live, learn, express themselves, work, and play.

Carnegie Mellon: Studio for Creative Inquary:

The STUDIO’s mission is to support atypical, antidisciplinary, and interinstitutional research projects at the intersections of arts, sciences, technology and culture. We specialize in supporting emerging artists who create and adapt new technologies, in fields such as computation arts, interactive installation, visualization, mechatronic sculpture, biological art, network culture, critical software, and tactical media. To such researchers, the STUDIO provides direct financial, administrative, and logistical support. The STUDIO also serves as a “meta‐laboratory” – a portal to the larger university context through which artists can connect to a wide array of experts and facilities.


Overview: Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) is a nonprofit organization that serves the global network of distinguished scholars, artists, scientists, researchers and thinkers through our programs focused on interdisciplinary work, creative output and innovation. From its beginnings, Leonardo/ISAST has served as THE virtual community for purposes of networking, resource‐sharing, best practices, research and events in Art/Science/Technology.

Leonardo serves as critical content provider through our Publications Program ‐‐ scholarly journals published by MIT Press (Leonardo and LMJ), the Leonardo Book Series (MIT Press), as well as the Leonardo family of websites and experimental projects on evolving digital platforms.

Through our Engagement Programs, we connect with the community through Art/Science/Technology initiatives, ranging from workshops and events such as the popular LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) series to programs for educators and students. Our Affiliates are our key partners in these activities. (See our Programs page for more detail on programs and projects.)

Our Mission: The critical challenges of the 21st century require mobilization and crossfertilization among the domains of art, science and technology. Leonardo/ISAST fosters collaborative explorations both nationally and internationally by facilitating interdisciplinary projects and documenting and disseminating information about interdisciplinary practice.

Vision Statement: Leonardo creates opportunities for the powerful exchange of ideas between practitioners in art, science and technology. Through publications, initiatives and public forums, Leonardo/ISAST facilitates cross‐disciplinary research in these fields, seeking to catalyze fruitful solutions for the challenges of the 21st century. Among the challenges requiring cross‐ disciplinary approaches are establishing sustainable environmental practices, spreading global scientific and artistic literacy, creating technological equity, and encouraging freedom of thought and imagination. By enhancing communication between scientists, artists, and engineers, Leonardo supports experimental projects and interacts with established institutions of art and science to transform their research and educational practices.

Leonardo/ISAST is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The activities of Leonardo/ISAST are supported by grants and donations from organizations and individuals. Donations are tax‐deductible in the U.S.

Le Laboratoire, Paris:

Learning @ Le Lab is just about everything we care about. If you do not learn when creating, or participating in the creative process, you’ve missed the point. Our emblematic program is The ArtScience Prize. This is a curricular program that rewards the passion and commitment of young people to develop and pursue dreams of a better world through art and design at frontiers of science. The ArtScience Prize has improved creativity skills of thousands of teens and university students over the last five years while spreading from the Boston Public Schools in 2009 to over 15 sites around the world from its origins in the “ideas that matter” course of Laboratoire founder David Edwards. With the opening of Lab Cambridge we are starting a whole new exciting era. For more information see

Café ArtScience is a world‐class dining experience…reinvented. Featuring “Best of Boston” bartender Todd Maul, renowned Parisian coffee‐roaster Antoine Nétien, and chef Patrick Campbell (previously of No 9 Park), Café ArtScience is an unrivaled culinary destination that will delight and amaze all of the senses. Café ArtScience is a unique fusion of a culinary and retail experience, where diners—in addition to ordering from small‐plate, café, and cocktail menus—can explore, play with, and even acquire the trailblazing innovations coming out of Le Laboratoire that are dedicated to pioneering a more nutritious and sustainable world.

Le Lab Cambridge, Cambridge, MA

Le Lab Cambridge is now offering themed youth workshops that help young people of all ages to engage in deep, hands‐on ways with current exhibitions and events at Le Lab. Upcoming workshops around our 2015‐2016 annual theme Machine Life invite young people to explore the issues and opportunities in the field of human‐machine interactions.

School and youth groups can also request personalized, age‐appropriate guided tours of Le Lab’s exhibitions, led by our Education staff members and Gallery Assistants.

Hands‐on workshops and gallery visits can be adapted for any age level, and are led by our Education staff members and a team of Gallery Assistants. Due to our partnerships with Google and Ipsen, we are able to offer these workshops free of charge to a limited number.


What We Do

IDEO (pronounced “eye‐dee‐oh”) is an award‐winning global design firm that takes a human‐centered, design‐based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow.

We identify new ways to serve and support people by uncovering latent needs, behaviors, and desires.

We envision new companies and brands, and we design the products, services, spaces, and interactive experiences that bring them to life.

We help organizations build creative culture and the internal systems required to sustain innovation and launch new ventures.

Our Approach: Design Thinking

Design thinking is a humancentered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. —Tim Brown, president and CEO

Thinking like a designer can transform the way organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategy. This approach, which IDEO calls design thinking, brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.

Design thinking is a deeply human process that taps into abilities we all have but get overlooked by more conventional problem‐solving practices. It relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional, and to express ourselves through means beyond words or symbols. Nobody wants to run an organization on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an over‐reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky. Design thinking provides an integrated third way.

The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. There are three spaces to keep in mind: inspirationideation, and implementation. Inspiration is the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions. Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas. Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives.

Under this system, IDEO uses both analytical tools and generative techniques to help clients see how their new or existing operations could look in the future — and build road maps for getting there. Our methods include business model prototyping, data visualization, innovation strategy, organizational design, qualitative and quantitative research, and IP liberation.

All of IDEO’s work is done in consideration of the capabilities of our clients and the needs of their customers. As we iterate toward a final solution, we assess and reassess our designs. Our goal is to deliver appropriate, actionable, and tangible strategies. The result: new, innovative avenues for growth that are grounded in business viability and market desirability.


In Technarte, our main objective is to disseminate the importance of the fusion between art and technology as a way for the development and knowledge of the fields of art, technology and science. For that purpose, we carry out different actions based on promoting this rapprochement between art and technology.

Zero1 San Jose (San Jose, CA)

Our Mission

ZERO1 is a Silicon Valley arts organization. We connect creative explorers in art, science, and technology to provoke new ideas that shape a more resilient future.

Our Vision

To fully explore what’s possible tomorrow we provoke new ideas, spark experimentation, and seed creative strategies today.

What We Do

Working with some of the most fertile and creative minds from the worlds of art, science, design, architecture, and technology, ZERO1 produces the ZERO1 Biennial, an international showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology and the ZERO1 Fellowship program where principles of artistic creativity are applied to real world innovation challenges.

Core Beliefs

At ZERO1 we believe that:

  • Art, at the frontier of technology, broadens our critical understanding of the world by provoking new ideas, experimentation, and creative strategies.
  • Through a global network of partners we can bridge academic, corporate, and cultural worlds to foster collaboration and encourage social action.
  • Things get interesting where disciplines rub up against each other. (Linz, Austria)

Rhode Island School of Design: STEM to STEAM,

Since its founding in 1877, RISD has consistently upheld its mission to educate the public about the vital role of art and design in society. Today, the RISD community remains committed to the belief that the arts and design, in concert with fields like science and technology, will bring about the global innovation needed in the 21st century.

STEM to STEAM is a RISD-led initiative to add Art and Design to the national agenda of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research in America. STEM + Art = STEAM. The goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer.

RISD offers endless examples of how art and design education teaches the flexible thinking, risk-taking and creative problem solving needed to solve today’s most complex and pressing challenges – from healthcare to urban revitalization to global warming. News and updates about ongoing efforts in these areas are posted to this section of our site on a regular basis.

1Programs are not presented in any particular order, nor are they prioritized in any way. Descriptions were excerpted from the program websites and represent original quotes.