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What projects emerge from the arts & science Chair's summer school?

Created to bring scientists and artists together, the first biennial summer school of the arts & science Chair, called "Useful fictions", has given rise to various research-creation projects, for example on cosmic dust and biomimetic inspired objects. The next edition will take place from 4 to 11 July 2021 in Poitiers.

Credits: Antoine Desjardins, artist, professor at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs - EnsAD and researcher at Ensadlab

The first edition of "Useful Fictions", the summer school of the arts & sciences Chair, allowed 18 international students, supervised by some fifteen artists, scientists and designers, to explore contemporary ecological issues during one week. Entitled "Taking the Measure", it was the result of a partnership between the École Polytechnique and the Universities of California (UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCLA), and consisted of five research-creation workshops and multidisciplinary meetings. It then led to an exhibition in Paris (Galerie Hus) and at UC Irvine. Some of the workshops led to the development of larger-scale collaborations and creations that took place during the year 2020:

The "Climate measurements" workshop at SIRTA was a great inspiration for Victoria Vesna, founder of the Art & Science Center at the University of California at Los Angeles in 2005, through her exchanges with Imma Bastida, a teaching engineer at the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, and Alexis Tantet, assistant professor at the Laboratory of Dynamic Meteorology (LMD*). "The interaction with Imma was decisive for the creation of the [Alien] Star Dust project," says the artist, "working with the students led to inspiring discussions! ". Victoria Vesna presented an exhibition in 2020 at the Natural History Museum in Vienna about star dust, as well as an online meditation workshop with NASA sounds and 3D imagery. These creations are based on the understanding of stardust and pollution dust, the subject of Imma Bastida's research.

The "Useful Fictions" summer school strengthened the collaboration between Giancarlo Rizza, CEA researcher at the Laboratory of Irradiated Solids (LSI*) and Antoine Desjardins, artist, professor at the École des Arts Décoratifs - EnsAD and researcher at Ensadlab. Initiated during the Behavioral Matter workshop organised by the Chair at the Centre Pompidou in March 2019, it was structured during the "Additive Manufacturing" workshop (with the participation of Laurent Karst), with the convergence between two research themes: one centred on the additive manufacturing of functional objects and the other around new artistic expressions associated with behavioural matter.

This collaboration then led to a presentation during the poster brunch "Hors d'œuvres" at the Générateur of Gentilly in January 2020 and to the research-creation module Animatum Materiæ Flexibile at EnsAD. During the 2nd edition of the "Useful Fictions" summer school, they will jointly supervise the workshop "Tépales, Sépales, Pétales: croissance en états d'artificialité", which will focus on the setting in motion of magneto-active objects resulting from hybridizations between plant and animal forms.

Four other workshops will take place at this year's summer school "Useful Fictions: Taking Root" summer school, all centred around environmental and technological issues. This event is organised by the arts & sciences Chair (with the support of the School's Sustainable Development Chair and LaSIPS) and the Espace Mendès France in Poitiers, with many local (ENSI Poitiers, Institut P'Prime, EESI, Les Usines) and Ile-de-France (La Scène de Recherche de l'Ens Saclay and SIANA) partners. These workshops will be followed by an exhibition at the Espace Mendès France as well as a presentation in November 2021 of some of the workshops, on the occasion of "Exploring the invisible", a major arts & sciences event organised by the Exoplanète Terre network in Paris and Essonne.

*LMD: a joint research unit of CNRS, École Polytechnique - Institut Polytechnique de Paris, ENS, Sorbonne University
LSI: a joint research unit of CEA, CNRS, École Polytechnique - Institut Polytechnique de Paris

>> More about the Chair:
Created in 2017, the Chair « arts & sciences », supported by the Daniel et Nina Carasso, encourages collaborations between researchers, artists, scientists, designers and students. Held by Jean-Marc Chomaz and Samuel Bianchini, the Chair explores our interdependency to the living (climate, vegetal world, moving matters) and to technologies (objects with behaviours, AI, soft robotics). The Chair Art & Sciences offers research-creation projects, educational innovations and innovative publiscisation formats during events that favor the sensitive experience.