IDEA | Intimate Science

Posted on 02/11/2009

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I’ve just been reading “Intimate Science and Hard Humanities” by Roger Malina, Executive Editor of Leonardo (vol 12, no 3, 2009), who has written about ‘intimate science’ and ‘micro-science’. In discussing the remoteness of scientific understanding and the removal of science from our everyday lives, he considers some options for intimacy with science. Describing the work of artists working with data, science and technology, he says they “help make science intimate, sensual, intutive”. He points to new types of ‘micro science’ made possible by the internet and public access to scientific data and instruments: he calls for “embedding mediated contact with the world in everyday life”. The Leonardo network – involving scientists, artists, social scientists – has developed the concept of “open observatories” – which disseminate methods and knowledge for micro-science, intimate science, people’s science and crowd sourcing. The vision offered by Malina is one of interdisciplinary and collaborative potency – “these open observatories would allow small communities to develop locally generated knowledge and to evolve rapidly to confront climate change, end oil dependency and create sustainable development. Open observatories would include artists collecting data for cultural and artistic purposes, as well as community leaders and researchers seeking ways to mediate personally meaningfull access to scientific knowledge.” Ultimately, he says, these open observatories will result in new contact between science and society. I can imagine this kind of initiative could alter the way we engage with and develop the built environment through an ingrained and growing awareness of climate change and sustainability.

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