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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research Special Issue - March 2004   
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 TABLE OF CONTENTS
 EDITORIAL
 Science and the world, art and the ego
 The enigma of knots
 The beauty of maths
 The mysteries of a mutant art
 Research in all its aspects
 Intuition and fantasy
 Science in fiction
 The seventh art
 Crossed ideas
 The paradoxes of perception
 Experiencing science through art
 Museums of the digital age
 Europe, researchers and cultural heritage

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  Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond: ‘An artist uses the first person singular, a scientist the first person plural. This vital difference conditions their ability to engage in dialogue.’
Interview : Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond
Science and the world, art and the ego
‘I am grateful to certain artists for helping me step back and achieve the essential critical distance which techno-science requires today.’ This ‘saying’ of Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond dates from 1996, but it has not lost one iota of its truth to this day. Theoretical physicist, ‘experimental epistemologist’, lecturer at the University of Nice, director of publisher Seuil’s scientific collection, and the driving force behind the Alliage magazine (see box), he is constantly questioning science which he likes to ‘put to the test of thought’ and to confront with other human activities, like artistic creation.
  Jorge Eielson, Nodo, 1973. Courtesy Galleria d'Arte Niccoli, Parma
Shapes, structures, objects
The enigma of knots
Engaging mathematicians ans psychoanalysts, fascinating astrophysicists and biologists, knots are also evident in the history of art. Examples of an 'eternal' symbol.
  The Möbius strip (1790-1868) is one of the most famous and easily understood geometric paradoxes. It simply involves joining the two ends of a strip together after first twisting one end through 180 degrees. This produces a 'non-orientable' surface. In moving along it, one moves from one surface of the strip to the other without any transition.   Konrad Polthier, T-U Berlin
The beauty of maths
'Many mathematicians see their discipline as an art. They work according to their specific methods, but also using aesthetic theories that can be applied to artistic creation.   Conversely, some artists are attracted and/or stimulated by mathematics and use ideas developed by scientists.' That is the opinion of Michele Emmer, a mathematician and film-maker in whose company – among others – we take a look at the relationship between art and maths, images and visualisation, and aesthetics and education.  
  Art or science? It is sometimes in the culture section and sometimes on the science pages (as here) that journalists write about Alba, Eduardo Kac's fluorescent rabbit which has brought the notion of biotech art to the attention of the general public.
Biotechnological art
The mysteries of a mutant art
Biotech artists’ studios are laboratories and their materials are cells, DNA molecules and living tissue. The life sciences can be a vehicle for ethical, as well as, aesthetic inquiry. We take a look at a special coming together of 'art and science'. 
  Helix nebula, captured by the Hubble telescope – ‘Art is an abstraction. Derive it from nature while dreaming before it’ (Paul Gauguin).   ESA
Points of view
Research in all its aspects
Artists express their unique inner self. Scientists discover a pre-existing, unbiased reality. Their objectives, methods and results differ. But are they not all researchers whose paths cross on occasion?
  Chromolithograph produced by the Liebeg company in the early 20th century.  Agence Martienne
Science fiction 
Intuition and fantasy
It was in 1623 that the German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote Somnium, a detailed account of a journey to the moon. He noted how 'agreeable it is to anticipate what is going to happen years in advance'.   This venture by a man of science marked the beginning of a new literary genre: science fiction. Today, we find the European Space Agency (ESA) collecting texts, taking the measure of 'futuristic' ideas and organising a science fiction literary competition. Who knows – one day this pursuit of the imagination may even serve to inspire our scientists and engineers. 
  © Roger-Viollet
Literature
Science in fiction
In addition to science fiction, which fantasises about the future of science, there is also just fiction. A genre in which the novelist can give free rein to his imagination and – whether situating the events in the past, present or future – present the adventures of science to fascinating effect. 
  Les palmes de Monsieur Schultz, Claude Pinoteau
Cinema
The seventh art
Marey's chronophotographic gun camera – the forerunner of today's movie camera – was designed to film the flight of birds. Ever since, motion filming has been used to capture and conserve scientific phenomena or information in the same way as written documents, photographs and sound recordings do. Research, with its heroes, myths and ethical dilemmas – whether real or imagined – is also a field rich in dramatic potential to which scriptwriters have often turned for inspiration. We focus on a number of cases where film has drawn inspiration from science, or where science has used the camera to communicate its discoveries.
  Mathematician and philosopher Luciano Boi (left), and artist and art theorist Roberto Barbanti (right).
Philosophy, art and science
Crossed ideas
‘Should we resign ourselves to viewing science as simply a machine for producing truth or formulae that work? Or rather shouldn’t we see in both its theoretical and practical aspects an incessant quest for intelligibility and creation?’ asks mathematician Luciano Boi. ‘Once again, we need to think of beauty in all its temporal and timeless, tangible and intelligible, natural and artificial complexity’, says art theorist Roberto Barbanti. Together, the two men have launched the Pharos centre at a former convent, heavy with silence and memory, near the Italian city of Urbino. It is a place where scientists, philosophers and artists of every discipline can discuss, reflect and ask one another questions.
  'My scientific work on the synthesising of sounds and perception has brought me new possibilities for composing. And my work as a musician has raised stimulating problems for my research.'
Portrait : Jean-Claude Risset
The paradoxes of perception
For the past 40 years the musician Jean-Claude Risset has been exploring the possibilities of synthesising and digitally processing sound. As a physicist, he is also engaged in research into the characteristics of auditory perception. As a composer, his musical creations are inevitably linked to his research work – with the recognition he receives coming in equal parts from both the scientific community and the world of music.   
  The Catalanian Assumption – Munich, November 2003  Franz Kimmel
Meeting : Dieter Trüstedt and Jörg Schäffer
Experiencing science through art
A nuclear physicist abandons a career mapped out in advance to devote his time to multimedia performances. A musician and doctor of biochemistry translates into sound the beauty which fascinates him in the science of biology. Two German researchers, Dieter Trüstedt and Jörg Schäffer, have chosen a career as artists – but it was science that led them there. 
  The Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe (DE) is unique in Europe
Creation and technology
Museums of the digital age
With two museums, three institutes, a centre for artists and a full programme of cultural events presenting contemporary – if not avant-garde – works, the Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe (DE) is unique in Europe. Defining itself as a 'culture factory for the digital age', this versatile space provides scope for research, artistic production, reflection and public debate. 
  The Parthenon is one of the masterpieces of our global heritage which has been most affected by urban pollution.
Cultural heritage
Europe, researchers and cultural heritage
Civilisations are built up over centuries and millennia. The tangible traces they leave behind enable future generations to find their roots in a shared past. With its historical cities, grandiose remains and more modest historical vestiges, Europe is particularly rich in reminders of our shared history. It is no accident that Europe is the continent for the growing business of art and culture tourism. But this culturally – and economically – valuable heritage is also fragile. It is literally crumbling away, not only from age, but also from the effects of climate, pollution and human negligence.