Metamorphoses: Gaming Art and Science with OvidInnovation Award
Dr Charlotte Sleigh, University of Kent
Dr Simon F. Park, University of Surrey
In 2010, bio-artist Sarah Craske stumbled upon a very early English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in a cobwebby corner of an East Kent junk shop. It dated from 1735, and in its nearly 300 years of existence it had passed from reader to reader, picking up layers of biological history (bacteria, viruses, skin cells) just as surely as the gods of the stories in the volume themselves changed from one thing to another. Science & technology studies scholar Charlotte Sleigh, in conversation with Craske and another collaborator (scientist Simon Park), quickly realised that the book was both a great *object* of study for a science/art project, but also a metaphor for understanding the *ways* in which science and art hybridise to create meaning for us in a world that is packed with data of biological, literary and visual varieties. Just like the real world, this book could be read as a scientific experiment (on the bacteria etc.) or as a literary or aesthetic text. Under the direction (or refereeing) of Sleigh, Craske and Park will work together on the book to produce an exhibition of hybrid science-art knowledge. For example, they might try and recreate the organisms that have left their genes upon its pages. Or they might in some way metamorphose the book’s materials back into their constituent parts (a cow for the leather, a tree for the wood pulp). The only rule is that they must agree on each research step that they take together. As they work together at the lab bench, their arguments and compromises will be documented. This record will be teased out and analysed by the project’s observer, Sleigh, seeking out the ways in which Park and Craske understand and
misunderstand one another from their positions in science and art. Their research choices, recorded via mind-mapping software and selected by Sleigh, will form the basis for web-based mobile game that encourages visitors to the exhibition (and other users) to reflect on their own opinions and experiences of the art/science boundary: the languages and the practices that are used in each field.
This project was featured on ITV Meridian News on 21/10/14. The feature is available to watch here http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/story/2014-10-21/the-biology-of-books/