Workshop “Performativity and Scientific Practice"

October 25 – 26, 2012

 

Venue:

Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg
Lehmkuhlenbusch 4

27753 Delmenhorst
Germany

Organziers:

Dr. Timothy J. Senior, Jacobs University and Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg
Dr. Monica Meyer-Bohlen and Dr. Dorothe Poggel, Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg

Workshop “ Performativity and Scientific Practice"

October 25 – 26, 2012

 

Venue:

Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg
Lehmkuhlenbusch 4

27753 Delmenhorst
Germany

Organziers:

Dr. Timothy J. Senior, Jacobs University and Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg
Dr. Monica Meyer-Bohlen and Dr. Dorothe Poggel, Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg

Funding Partner:

Stiftung Niedersachsen (http://www.stnds.de/)

Funding Partner:

Stiftung Niedersachsen (http://www.stnds.de/)

The concept of ‘performativity’ has long been discussed within the social sciences and the humanities, notably in language philosophy, performance theory, gender studies and ethnography. One salient usage focuses on the value of the non-propositional logical mode of understanding gained through a bodily involvement in the ‘act of doing’. With growing interest in the interface between Science, Technology and Society, the role of the performative act within scientific practice and knowledge production is now receiving more attention. 

There is a broad consensus within the sciences that heuristics, intuition and tacit knowledge underlie insights gained during experimental research, aiding the process of discovery. These three facets can be seen as core constituents of the performative mode. New methods are now being developed, however, in which performative practices can contribute to scientific research from outside this normal context of operation. In the multi-player online game ‘Foldit’, for example, the general public leverage their three-dimensional problem-solving skills to generate models of protein-structures. New discoveries have been made in the field through this ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach, yielding publications in high-level journals.

The question, however, of whether performative acts can only operate within the “context of discovery,” rather than the “context of justification” – to borrow from Hans Reichenbach – is still open. In the study of complex systems, for example, in which non-repeatable or contingent phenomena dominate and no analytical solutions are available, wholly new epistemic methods around performative practices may be required. One striking development in this regard is Hans Diebner’s work on Performative Science in which Diebner asks whether research outcomes could be shown in the form of an “installation” – one experienced in a performative, almost playful, way.

Critically, in both Diebner’s installation work and the “serious gaming” outlined, a new style of research is emerging in which researcher and public alike are drawn together in the research process itself. The value of such performative ‘systems’, therefore, lies in their contribution to both science and society at large. By engaging the user in processes of observation and experimentation through a ‘bodily involvement in doing’, a performative approach to scientific research could transform current models of science education and public engagement with the sciences.

Workshop Objectives

Here at the HWK, we wish to bring together artists and scholars working on performative aspects of research methodology, as part of a two-day workshop. The interest of the HWK, as an incubator of new research, is in giving greater visibility to this emerging field and encouraging critical and collaborative discourse regarding its future directions. Key questions that will be addressed in this workshop include:

  • Within the sciences, where might a methodological alliance between performative practices and more traditional scientific methods be both feasible and desirable?
  • If performativity is to become part of the “context of justification”, how can it escape from the confines of quantification that undermine it?
  • How might such an alliance challenge and enrich current debate surrounding the ‘three cultures’ of art, science and art-science?
  • What issues arise in the development of ‘performative’ installation work destined to engage both scientists and non-scientists alike?

The concept of ‘performativity’ has long been discussed within the social sciences and the humanities, notably in language philosophy, performance theory, gender studies and ethnography. One salient usage focuses on the value of the non-propositional logical mode of understanding gained through a bodily involvement in the ‘act of doing’. With growing interest in the interface between Science, Technology and Society, the role of the performative act within scientific practice and knowledge production is now receiving more attention.

There is a broad consensus within the sciences that heuristics, intuition and tacit knowledge underlie insights gained during experimental research, aiding the process of discovery. These three facets can be seen as core constituents of the performative mode. New methods are now being developed, however, in which performative practices can contribute to scientific research from outside this normal context of operation. In the multi-player online game ‘Foldit’, for example, the general public leverage their three-dimensional problem-solving skills to generate models of protein-structures. New discoveries have been made in the field through this ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach, yielding publications in high-level journals.

The question, however, of whether performative acts can only operate within the “context of discovery,” rather than the “context of justification” – to borrow from Hans Reichenbach – is still open. In the study of complex systems, for example, in which non-repeatable or contingent phenomena dominate and no analytical solutions are available, wholly new epistemic methods around performative practices may be required. One striking development in this regard is Hans Diebner’s work on Performative Science in which Diebner asks whether research outcomes could be shown in the form of an “installation” – one experienced in a performative, almost playful, way.

Critically, in both Diebner’s installation work and the “serious gaming” outlined, a new style of research is emerging in which researcher and public alike are drawn together in the research process itself. The value of such performative ‘systems’, therefore, lies in their contribution to both science and society at large. By engaging the user in processes of observation and experimentation through a ‘bodily involvement in doing’, a performative approach to scientific research could transform current models of science education and public engagement with the sciences.

Workshop Objectives

Here at the HWK, we wish to bring together artists and scholars working on performative aspects of research methodology, as part of a two-day workshop. The interest of the HWK, as an incubator of new research, is in giving greater visibility to this emerging field and encouraging critical and collaborative discourse regarding its future directions. Key questions that will be addressed in this workshop include:

  • Within the sciences, where might a methodological alliance between performative practices and more traditional scientific methods be both feasible and desirable?
  • If performativity is to become part of the “context of justification”, how can it escape from the confines of quantification that undermine it?
  • How might such an alliance challenge and enrich current debate surrounding the ‘three cultures’ of art, science and art-science?
  • What issues arise in the development of ‘performative’ installation work destined to engage both scientists and non-scientists alike?

Program

The full workshop program is given here

Exhibition: Concurrent with the workshop will be an exhibition of new work from the workshop speakers. The official opening will be on the evening of the 25th October at 20:00, to which all workshop participants are invited. The exhibition will run until mid-November.

Informal Project Presentation Sessions: During the informal project presentation sessions, workshop participants will be free to explore the workshop exhibition. The artists will be on hand to discuss their work.

Brainstorming Sessions: During the brainstorming sessions, workshop participants will be divided into smaller groups to discuss the key questions outlined in the Workshop Objectives and other topics that will have arisen over the course of the presentation sessions and the informal coffee break discussions. The four sessions will be flexibly programmed over the two days of the workshop to allow time for developing and re-visiting key topics. Components of the brain storming sessions will also be designed by the workshop presenters.

Program

The full workshop program is given here

Exhibition: Concurrent with the workshop will be an exhibition of new work from the workshop speakers. The official opening will be on the evening of the 25th October at 20:00, to which all workshop participants are invited. The exhibition will run until mid-November.

Informal Project Presentation Sessions: During the informal project presentation sessions, workshop participants will be free to explore the workshop exhibition. The artists will be on hand to discuss their work.

Brainstorming Sessions: During the brainstorming sessions, workshop participants will be divided into smaller groups to discuss the key questions outlined in the Workshop Objectives and other topics that will have arisen over the course of the presentation sessions and the informal coffee break discussions. The four sessions will be flexibly programmed over the two days of the workshop to allow time for developing and re-visiting key topics. Components of the brain storming sessions will also be designed by the workshop presenters.

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