Communicating science: Explorations through science and art

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Science and Art have a history of distinctive difference and
opposing notions of experimentation. Nevertheless these ‘two
cultures’, as described by C. P. Snow (1959), have more in
common than might be supposed. Both are highly creative, both are
exploratory, both have flashes of brilliance. They can be a
perfect complement to each other, as has been shown over the long
period in which the two disciplines have influenced each other.
It is surprising, therefore, that ‘scienceart’ or
‘artscience’ have not been greatly studied as a ‘third
culture’ (Miller, 2014). It is in this interactive space
between the disciplines that this research study is focused. It
is a study of communication of science, the expression of science
through art, and art through science.

Three case studies of communicating science through art are
discussed in this thesis. Working in the fields of art and
science together, the works in these studies used the art to
express the science across sectors of the public, research
organisations and scientists themselves. Each case study
addresses a research question about the communication of science
and in turn discusses the creation of the art to achieve this
communication. All three case studies are linked, in that each
sought to communicate with different publics in different ways to
convey the science behind the artworks. The art works themselves
are included as part of this thesis.

The first case study, entitled FingerCodes, concerns a series of
works which use the fingerprint as a foundation for expressions
of identity. This idea is carried further with an audience of
young children, to discover whether the scientific notion of a
fingerprint can assist in their own expressions of identity
through art. Two workshops with children are described.

The second case study, entitled Titanium Insects, describes a
collaboration between a scientist and an artist to inform both
the science and the art. In this case, the art work intersects
with entomological research. The case study examines the creative
relationship between artist and scientist and its impact
collaboratively as well as independently; how that collaboration
was fruitful in facilitating an interdisciplinary approach; and
the associated outcomes and benefits of such a collaboration.

This third case study, StellrScope, extends the scope and depth
of science art intersection through an extensive study of wheat
science innovation over one hundred years, which resulted in a
public artwork in a national science museum. The question
addressed in this research was whether an artist in a scientific
organisation can act as a catalyst for the production of art
science outreach. The thesis describes how this collaboration
successfully provided an opportunity to communicate the
scientific story and the research to the public.

The thesis makes recommendations for future practice and
concludes with a new template which can serve as a model for
similar collaborations.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Australian National University
  • Stocklmayer, Susan, Principal Supervisor, External person
  • Lovell, David , Co-Supervisor, External person
  • Lamberts, Rod, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date27 Jul 2015
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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