Creativity, curiosity, and the pursuit of knowledge are characteristics that represent two supposedly opposite domains: science and arts. However, in reality, both can be considered two sides of the same coin. Artists and scientists are drawn to observe the world and reimagine it, whether it is from an emotional or empirical perspective. They also share a common goal: using their observations to challenge existing paradigms and push boundaries.
As the EELISA loves arts campaign shows, our alliance is committed to encourage the creation of new bridges between STEM and arts while celebrating their connection. A great example of this union is BME’s Art Residency Program, which invites artists to create on campus while collaborating with investigators. If you are an European artist, you have the chance to take part in it, but be quick, the deadline closes on July 31st (more information below). In this interview, Anna Gács, founder and coordinator of the program, explains its workings:
- What is the BME Art residency program?
Each year, the Art Residency Program at the Budapest University of Technology and Economocs (BME) hosts artists from any discipline (writers, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, dancers, etc.). They are invited to cooperate with one of the university’s departments, laboratories, or research projects and reflect on the process by their own means. Similarly to many Art & Science residencies all over the world, the BME’s program encourages artists to examine the intellectual, social, ethical aspects of scientific and technological research, and thus inspire a wider discussion of them. The program was launched in 2022.
- As a techical university, what is are the goals and motivation behind this program?
During the cooperation of artists and scientists, two different languages, two different mindsets, two different working methods come together as equal partners. The autonomy of all participants is essential in this process: the knowledge or the language of neither participant becomes subordinated. The researcher does not step away from the scientific point of view, neither does the artist’s work become a mere illustration of scientific results.
The work involved is neither translation, nor applied art; it is rather the encounter of two world views, an attempt on mutual understanding. This encounter might serve as an occasion for all of us to consider the relationship, social contexts, and institutional frameworks of scientific and artistic creativity. In the first year of the program, I was surprised to see how open-minded and enthusiastic researchers were during the cooperation. When asked about his experience of the residency, one artist said it was a great to see that “Here, we created something that everyone could feel was their own.” He also underlined the selflessness of his supervisors.
- What makes BME’s Art residency program different from others?
At the moment BME offers 3 types of scholarships: we host two Hungarian artists for ten months, one art student from the Budapest Metropolitan University for three months, and for the first time next year, an artist from the European Union for a one-month period. (It is our intention to extend this period in the future.) Our program is open to all kinds of arts, and it is our intention to host artists from different fields at the same time. Artists can pick from a wide range of research topics, from fractals to flows, to AI and composing, etc. We try to encourage artists to connect to each other and reflect on each others’ work as well. For the foreign resident, we offer meetings with other artists living or working in Budapest. Artists are asked to hold workshops and seminars for students and academic staff, and we also organize round table discussions about topics connected to the relationship of art and science. Our first roundtable discussed the concept and institutional background of creativity in hard sciences, the humanities, and the arts. The second one addressed the role of new technology in different fields of contemporary artistic creativity. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that the blog of the program is edited and written by students of Communication and Media Studies at BME. Our Communication and Media degree program is unique in (and maybe outside) Hungary as it is offered by a Technical University. This special position allows students to learn about different ways of seeing the world. They are encouraged to try to mediate between different types of knowledge. Assisting the program and writing about it continuously is a unique form of learning for them.
- So far, what has been the result of this combination of art and science?
In the first year, the program hosted two media artists. Ádám Boruzs and Olga Kocsi were picked from 80 applicants. During his residency, Boruzs developed an installation that connected two research topics: Applied Colour Science and Beauty of Flows. His interactive multimedia installation resulting from his residency is kind of a “chaos pendulum”, which uses the engineering method of signal processing, and, at the same time, it reflects on the everyday experience of stimulus perception. Kocsi’s installation was inspired by the Movement and Art research topic. She spent time in the university’s motion lab, where she recorded the everyday routine activities of her friends: motions no researcher would think of as worthy of studying, such as cooking, giving massage, etc. The digital records of the motions were reproduced in a variety of media (3D statue, glass plates, Kinect videos, etc.). This way she created an ironic and critical work about the distance of scientific and everyday perception, which reflects on how our social roles profoundly determine the visibility of our various activities. The works were exhibited in the monumental main hall of one of the old buildings of the university and attracted many visitors.
- You just launched the second edition of the program, can you give us more details?
The jury has selected the Hungarian winners for 2023-24: Andrea Szigetvári, a composer interested in electronic music who will cooperate with researchers of AI and copyright, Katinka Hajas, a sculptor who will study construction materials with computer technology, and a Hedvig Vranek, a fashion design student who chose the research topic called “The transient charm of decaying chaos”.
The call for EU artists is now open, and winners can spend a month at BME in Budapest in the Spring of 2024. Applicants can choose from different research topics. The call and the research topics will be available on our website: https://rezidensmuvesz.bme.hu/.
Olga Kocsi: Láthatatlan munka (Invisible work)
Her work is a result of a collaboration with the Movement Lab, part of the Mechanical Engineering Faculty of BME. More info here.
Anna Gács at the closing exhibition of the 2022-23 residency program. – Photo by Berci Geberle.
Ádam Boruzs: Kaotikus érzékek (Chaotic senses)
His work combines the knowledge of the Hydronamic Systems department and the Department of Mechatronics, Optics and Mechanical Informatics of BME. More info here.
The opening of the closing exhibition. – Photo by Berci Geberle
Do you want to learn more about the BME Art Residency open for EU members?
This program, launched in 2022, offers artists from any discipline a unique opportunity to engage creatively with ongoing research projects at BME. It is now open to EU artists, who will be invited to spend one month on campus during the Spring of 2024.
Artists can explore intellectual, aesthetic, social, and ethical aspects of scientific and technological research, and also consult researchers, access laboratories, and connect with fellow resident artists. Accommodation and studios are provided at Art Quarter Budapest, a vibrant cultural institution.
The financial aid consist of 1500€, which would cover travel, self-maintenance, and closing presentation expenses. Accommodation and studio are provided by the university.
Deadline closes on July 31st!
More about Anna
Anna Gács is a critic and translator. She studied literature and art theory. Her research interests include contemporary literature and arts, literary and media theory. She is an associate professor at the Department for Sociology and Communication, Budapest University of Technology and Economics. In 1999-2000 she was the Hungarian lector at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College of London. From 2015 to 2018 she was the president of Szépírók Társasága (Hungarian Society of Writers, Critics and Literary Translators). In 2015 she won the Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 2022 she was awarded the Déry Prize for her book on contemporary autobiographic culture. She is the creator and manager of the Art Residency Program at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics launched in 2022.