ArtScience Labs is an international network of labs with the concept of artscience and the Idea Translation process at its core. ArtScience Labs is an exciting international network of labs, including its federating ArtScience Prize program, founded by David Edwards that aims to promote socially beneficial innovations through cultural experimentation at the frontiers of science. ArtScience Labs performs around fifty experiments annually to engage the creative minds of hundreds of students, artists, designers and scientists around the world, with innovative outcomes in education, industry, culture and society.
The Laboratory Program of Artscience Labs is based in Paris at the art and design center Le Laboratoire. This program, with a sister cultural center in The Laboratory @ Harvard, develops up to three experiments each year. These are led by a major artist or designer, working with one or more leading scientists, to develop works of art or design in purely cultural, industrial, or humanitarian contexts – and sometimes in all three. Experiments lead to three-month-long exhibitions at Le Laboratoire. These exhibitions are like first peer-reviewed publications that emerge from the lab to become catalysts for further experimentation. This promotes exhibitions, product development or humanitarian intervention around the world. Exhibitions frequently incorporate ideas that have emerged from the Idea Translation Lab programs of Artscience Labs, and bring students into new exciting cultural, industrial, and humanitarian environments.
The cultural experiments of Artscience Labs are managed in close coordination with corporate, government, philanthropic and non-governmental organization partners in the form of art and design experiments at frontiers of science. These experiments are by artists or designers and culminate in exhibits at Le Laboratoire in central Paris.
Two-thirds of our experiments at Le Laboratoire have already traveled to other major museums or galleries for exhibition, including those imagined and developed by the war photographer James Nachtwey, the digital composer Ryoji Ikeda, the contemporary artist Shilpa Gupta, the designer Mathieu Lehanneur, the architect François Roche, and the designer Marc Bretillot. These exhibitions have impacted up to a million visitors.
The realization programs of Artscience Labs are managed through a unique process of cultural incubation. Cultural incubation entails rapid prototyping and presentation to the public in art and design exhibition formats where the public is encouraged to experiment and participate in the creative design process. Our Idea Translation Program is led by a diverse artscience team in collaboration with world-renowned artists, scientists, designers, and entrepreneurs.
In the first two years of LaboGroup, two emerging commercial products, Le Whif and Andrea were exhibited multiple times at Le Laboratoire, in the Laboshop, and elsewhere, including the Cannes Film Festival and MoMA in New York. Following this cultural incubation process, both products began to sell in stores in Europe, Asia and North America starting in late 2009. Andrea was named a 2008 “Invention of the Year” by Popular Science.
The first humanitarian product developed by LaboGroup, The Pumpkin, is a new way of transporting water in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It was first tested in Africa in the summer of 2009, and exhibited at Le Laboratoire in the spring of 2010.
Labs are places that sanction dreams. They come in various kinds – film labs, design labs, molecular biology labs. We do experiments in labs, which aim at outcomes, or what we might call discoveries. We can’t say with certainty what these discoveries will be, nor can we determine when we’ll achieve them, but we can imagine that film labs will mostly make discoveries of relevance to filmmaking, design labs to industrial design, and molecular biology labs to the science of molecular biology. It is this possibility of discovery that compels investment. Who invests in lab experimentation? Creators do. Labs do. And supporters of labs do. All three make for an experiment. It’s the same way families are supposed to work. Children experiment. Parents curate. Society – the school system, local government, local commerce, friends and family – supports.
Why do any of us invest in such experimentation? Naturally enough, there are three reasons. Creators – children – do because through experimentation they sustain dreams. Labs – parents – do because they believe in the creator, if not in the creator’s every dream, and wish to help nurture the creator to the point where a dream comes true. Supporters of labs – society agents – do because they understand the need for creative change in a world that is constantly changing, presenting new challenges, opportunities, insights, demanding fresh perspectives, and hope.