The Leonardo Education and Art Forum at ISEA 2011

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Transdisciplinary Visual Arts, Science & Technology Renewal Post-New Media Assimilation Workshop

Sponsored by the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA)

Date: Saturday, 17 September, 2011, 13:00 - 16:00
Location: Istanbul, Sabanci Center, Levent Sabancı Center Room B


Associate Professor Paul Thomas, College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales


Focus Group 1. Discuss transdisciplinary collaborations: Petra Gemeinboeck and Andres Burbano

Focus Group 2. Discuss transdisciplinary studio practice: Ross Harley and Ionat Zurr

Focus Group 3. Discuss transdisciplinary theory: Edward Colless and Wendy Coones


Transdisciplinarity is deemed ‘radical’, ‘provisional and opportunistic’ because it challenges traditional educational paradigms. It focuses critical and creative attention onto domain- specific problem areas of ‘chance’, ‘discontinuity’ and ‘materiality’ (Foucault, 1976) to transcend limits within established disciplinary knowledge practices. This enables (re)visioning of the role, activity and value of Art Schools in uniting the pedagogical and technological strengths of the humanities and sciences in a university context, utilising conceptual growth, experimental innovation, visual communication and flexible learning spaces to deliver a model of Transdisciplinarity.

This workshop will address and share experiences and difficulties encountered while developing transdisciplinary art-science research, teaching, and when meshing curricula from diverse fields.

The transdisciplinary model will be explored in the context of the trans-migratory role of ISEA and look for a different voice from the various constructed international institutional perspectives.


Organised around three specific focus areas this workshop will address and share experiences and difficulties encountered while developing transdisciplinary art-science research, teaching, and when meshing curricula from diverse fields.

The first focus group led by Dr. Petra Gemeinboeck and Andres Burbano will discuss transdisciplinary collaboration. The panelists will offer insight into how experimental nature of art practice is able to deal with and navigate the uncharted territory of transdisciplinary research. Dr. Petra Gemeinboeck will explore the challenge of developing a horizontal, open transdisciplinary framework for research collaboration that perforates and transcends existing disciplinary boundaries within an institutional system where both resources and career paths are confined to vertically aligned, formally defined codes and practices. Andreas Burbano will highlight the importance of acquiring and developing the tools necessary for transdisciplinary research drawing on his own media arts practice and current PhD research on Technology and Media in Latin America.

The second group led by Prof. Ross Harley and Dr. Ionat Zurr will discuss transdisciplinary studio practice. Prof. Ross Harley, using the example of e-SCAPE a collaborative partnership between Professor Richard Goodwin’s Porosity Studio, and The Collabor8 Project (C8), in collaboration with Donghua University (Shanghai) and COFA (Sydney), will outline some of the successes and challenges encountered in the process of working across disciplinary, cultural, and institutional boundaries. Dr. Zurr will discuss and unravel some of the issues concerned with what constitutes "research" in the different disciplines, when the research includes hands-on practice that involves life manipulation as is the case with SymbioticA’s Master of Science (Biological Arts) degree at University of Western Australia where she is academic coordinator.

Dr Edward Colless and Wendy Coones will be leading the discussion on transdisciplinary theory, the focus of group 3. Dr. Colless proposes that "transdisciplinary" be theorized as a disruption to interdisciplinary conferring: that we encourage it as disagreement and, in a more demanding finesse of its alterity, as the "un-relation" of disciplines. Subsequently the prefix "trans" in transdisciplinary is to be taken to suggest drift and errancy, as disciplines cross each other with the eventful possibility of collision or collusion but without the eventuality of their consensus. Provocatively this crossing is to be referred to as an occultation in that it induces an esoteric knowledge not manifestly conferrable, discernable or communicable. Coones calls for the development of polycultural space of transdisciplinary practice that through taking into consideration the parameters of individual endeavors and their possible influence on one another, a larger image of the interconnectedness can be discussed.

Further information contact Mazena Topka

Workshop website

Updated 30 June 2011