Collaboration: Becoming a work of art 

COLLABORATIONS

 

THINK: Collaboration is increasingly becoming a primary mode of academic and professional practice in the 21st century. New kinds of collaborative practices are being established which can effectively operate across multiple disciplines within the arts, humanities and sciences. No longer can the great works of art and science be attributed to the creative and intellectual achievements of a single individual.  Even the artist 'alone' in the studio works collectively in an assemblage with legions of other beings, both human and non-human: the paint brush held lightly in hand; coloured shadow falling on a fading photograph; paint dripping down the glistening canvas; a heated conversation with a friend the night before. Similarly, the scientist can work collaboratively, and yet 'alone', in the laboratory: one chemical reacts violently to another; a microscope reveals an organic phase transition; an unlikely idea emerges for a new compound;  a grant proposal goes through. Yet we find even more resounding collaborations in which the barriers between artist, artwork and audience begin to dissolve into a relational event; the scientist and the artist start working together to engineer a new kind of organism; natural and cultural historians are assembled to align geological changes with social movements. In these cases, collaboration enacts a transformative force on each participant and the other, such that new ecologies of practice emerge which are fundamentally collective in both purpose and operation.