How Artists and Scientists Collaborate

Four experts who work at the interface of art and science weigh in. This event is held in conjunction with the “Think Art – Act Science” exhibition.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


September 24, 2011 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

Artists and scientists may not be that different after all. Both are driven by an innate curiosity and the motivation to explore, to experiment, to understand. Artists and scientists both make contributions to the larger challenges of our time. By combining the artistic eye with the scientific, still more questions arise, as do fresh approaches for tackling today’s pressing issues.

In conjunction with the exhibition Think Art – Act Science at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), swissnex San Francisco brings together four experts working at the interface of art and science to discuss how they navigate the boundary and reap the benefits of both disciplines. Irene Hediger outlines the Swiss artists-in-labs residency program, the basis for Think Art – Act Science. Pe Lang, a Swiss artist whose work is included in the exhibition talks about what it was like to collaborate with a scientist at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM). Susan Schwartzenberg, a curator for the Exploratorium, explains the idea behind science center’s upcoming Observatory. And Joel Slayton introduces ZER01: The Art and Technology Network.

The evening closes with a sound performance from Pe Lang called Untitled II that involves cylindrical tubes, nylon strings, and motors.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  presentations from Irene Hediger, Curator of Think Art – Act Science;
Pe Lang, sound artist and participant in the Swiss artists-in-labs program; Susan Schwartzenberg, Curator at the Exploratorium; and Joel Slayton, Executive Director of ZERO1
8:20 pm  Q&A
8:45 pm  sound Performance by Pe Lang
9:00 pm  reception & Networking
10:00 pm  doors close


Irène Hediger

Irène Hediger is Co-Director of the Swiss artists-in-labs program at the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS) at the Zurich University of the Arts and curator of the travelling exhibition Think Art – Act Science. After her studies in business administration, she got a degree in organizational development and group dynamics (DAGG) and a Master of Advanced Studies in Cultural Management at the University of Basel. She specializes in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary creative processes and practices and in the development of inclusive and participatory outreach concepts for a general public. She is part of a think tank on new media arts in Switzerland and has developeded international art-science collaborations with China and India.


Peter Lang

Peter Lang is a Swiss artist living in Berlin, working under the artist name Pe Lang. His access to the latest developments in micro-systems and nano-technology during his residency at the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) inspired him to develop kinetic speakers to analyze site-specific attributes and human perception of sound. The installation, Kinetic Speakers, shown in Think Art – Act Science, permits the variable listening and processing of external sound sources.
As a versatile sound artist, Pe Lang has exhibited and performed in several museums, galleries, and festivals in Europe and North America, including the Gosia Koscielak Gallery in Chicago, the Espacio Menosuno in Madrid, the Transmediale in Berlin and the Elektra Festival in Montreal. Among other honors, he received the sitemapping/mediaprojects award in 2008 from the Swiss Federal Department of Culture. He continuously performs his works in Europe and abroad.


Susan Schwartzenberg

Susan Schwartzenberg works as an independent artist and holds a senior artist position at the Exploratorium. She has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, California College of Art, and Stanford University, and is a Loeb Fellow for Advanced Environmental Studies in The School of Design at Harvard University. Recent endeavors include works for the Stanford School of Medicine, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Office of Cultural Affairs in Los Angeles. At the Exploratorium, she has developed numerous projects exploring the intersections of art and science. She is currently principal curator for the Observatory—a social and environmental look at the contemporary San Francisco landscape scheduled to open at piers 15 and 17 in 2013.


Joel Slayton

Joel Slayton is Executive Director of ZER01: The Art and Technology Network. From 1998-2007, Slayton was president and founder of C5 Corporation, a hybrid form of authorship intersecting research, corporate culture, and artistic enterprise. C5 projects have been featured at the Museo de BelleArtes, II International Bienale Buenos-Aires, Walker Art Center, the Cantor Center for the Arts, Transmediale, Ars Electronica, The New Museum, the San Jose Museum of Art, and more. Slayton is a full tenured professor at San Jose State University where he serves as director of the CADRE Laboratory for New Media, an interdisciplinary academic program in the School of Art established in 1984 and dedicated to development of experimental applications involving information technology and art.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos