For three years, a group of four artists, four scientists and a documentarian from the University of Wyoming have engaged in a series of authentic collaborations intended to reconceive the natural world - and to reimagine
the relationship between science and art. Other artists have expressed the wonders of science in various media - and expressing the richness of the natural world in ways that engage the public is certainly an important and timely venture. While the role of art is often used as communicator of science, our sustained interactions allow us to explore radically new possibilities in which science and art are treated as equal partners in the understanding of the world. We have come to realize that science can serve as the inspiration for the making of art, the purpose of which is not necessarily or directly to convey particular facts.
By engaging in trusting relationships, grounded in both deep expertise and genuine humility, more profound co-creations are possible. These synergies have revealed elements of the natural world that would otherwise be overlooked by both artists and scientists. Most potently in terms of the future of human inquiry, intensive engagement with the arts can provide science with approaches that allow researchers to cultivate novel understandings of nature. e perspectives and practices of the arts, when adapted to the questions of science, elicited entirely new ways of engaging the natural world.Somewhat ironically, the crucial element in our work is play - or at least a spirit of playfulness that has allowed us to let down our guard and foster a vulnerable, childlike willingness to ask “What if?” and “How might?” and “Why not?” What if geology was expressed as opera; how might the movement of bees be captured in choreographic scoring; why not transform microbiology into poetry, or sagebrush into sculpture, or habitats into music?