Leaning Out of Windows

Art and Physics Collaborations through Aesthetic Transformations

Science, like art, plunges itself into the materiality of the universe though with very different aims in mind. …This is not to say that art does not draw on science or that science does not draw on art, but in drawing on the other’s resources each must transform the work of the other into its own language and its own purpose.

– Art and science philosopher, Elizabeth Grosz

IMAGE: Ingrid Koenig, LOoW Process Design, 2016

Leaning Out of Windows (LOoW) is a four-year SSHRCC funded interdisciplinary art and science project, involving four phases between 2016 to 2020. It involves co-designing, curating, testing, and analyzing models of collaboration for art and science. Participants include Emily Carr University’s faculty, art students, visiting artists + physicists, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students working at TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator centre and accelerator-based science located at the University of British Columbia.

In this venture we join together artists and physicists to share the quest to understand the nature of reality. Their diverse experiences, views, and interactions bring each discipline to see a new perspective on the creative process while also broadening the potential for communication between disciplines. Our aim is to transform the grammar of abstract knowledge by specifically addressing the barely discernible phenomena studied by physics through aesthetics, analogy, metaphor, and other inventive methods.

During the collaborative process, scientists frame a physics topic for artists who in turn make material-based, intuitive investigations and responses. These transformations are manifest in visual art forms that include sculpture, painting, drawing, performance, photography, installation, sound, text, interactive media, dance and other cultural forms. The aim is to open new pathways for the possibility of a much richer understanding of human experience than each can attain separately. The process and outcomes of this creative research project has relevance beyond art and physics as it presents an emergent model of practice for the apprehension of complex knowledge and diverse ways of knowing.

At the end of the production period from January to September 2017 the resulting works from 26 artists will be exhibited and performed. In the next Phase beginning in February 2018 we will redesign the experimental set up which will be followed by another production period with artists and scientists in 2018. During 2018/19 the two phases will be analyzed resulting in writing on the project in preparation for a publication. In 2019/20 the four year project will be reconceived as a final exhibition accompanied by the publication with essays, the scientists’ drawings, equations and stories as well as the documented artworks.

Research Creation Questions

1. In what ways can transformative methodologies of collaboration work to engage with the diverse languages employed by artists and physicists?
2. What are possible models for interdisciplinary learning in the studio and science lab that are creative and effective generators of new knowledge and its visualization?

Objectives of the Proposed Research

1. To explore how artists might work with scientists to develop a shared understanding of how knowledge can be translated across their disciplinary communities.
2. To organize and assess a process of interdisciplinary collaboration between art and science that enables “hybrid research” which can then be shared by artists and scientists.


Higher Education, Interdisciplinary Studies, Visual Arts

Areas of Research:

Arts and Culture, Post-secondary Education and Research, Science and technology


art; science; physics; collaboration; interdisciplinary; aesthetics; transformation; metaphor; analogy; visualization; poetry; cross-disciplinary interactions; process-based research; creative field; knowledge generation; relational; education models