Being a scientist was never enough for me. It’s easy to agree that not every day in the lab is a celebration of beauty; not every conference talk is a poetic masterpiece; nor every idea the product of flashes of inspiration. While it would be ridiculous to expect it to be, are they mutually exclusive?
When you listen to the language of scientists, they talk of elegant solutions, symmetry, and beauty alongside efficiency, feasibility and accuracy. At their cores, both the artistic and scientific processes share common rules. Constant progress, original goals; the ability to recognise something where others see raw materials; the vision to retain a focussed narrative; to use skill sand equipment with mastery to achieve an output.
I’ve always had a fascination with both science and art. Blending the two was a golden opportunity. When at primary school, I used to draw tiny sketches with a microscopically short pencil. They would be intricately detailed and painstakingly shaded until I was happy with them. At the same time, a unhealthy obsession with taking things apart and rebuilding them, just to see how they worked was a product of growing up in a house full of tools, including some of my own. Maybe it was the result of my oscillating attention, but I flicked between the two creative areas of art and science.
On reflection, this explains a lot about why I’ve ended up doing what I do; encouraging scientists and artists to talk and collaborate. Presenting scientific concepts through different mediums is an inspirational way to unlock a world that famously doesn’t like to make itself utterly accessible. Which leads me to news.
I’m delighted to become a fellow at Birmingham Open Media (BOM) this year. BOM is forging a new model of radical practice at the intersection of art, technology and science with measurable social impact. Born from hacker culture, it is unlike other hackspaces, which are traditionally filled with tools and operating on a membership model. The BomLab foregrounds public engagement with a free gallery and events space, and supports a curated community of practitioners to deliver its aims. It is a boiling pot of scientists and artists to not just find common ground, but to offer to scratch each others itches.
Life takes you funny places and I look back fondly to all the things it has taken me to. This place seems kind of special to me. If the primary school Jon had known that this kind of place was a place to be, I think he would have been stoked!