In 2017 I formed para-lab alongside Andrew Wilson , an organisation which experiments with the ‘how’ of art and science collaborations. We work with an interdisciplinary mix of natural scientists and artists who all become part of the para-lab collective.
para-lab operates in a realm which is simultaneously inside, outside, and alongside the university institution, taking methods from the idea of the ‘para-academic’. We aim to create productive discomfort, where participants are taken out of their comfort zones, both physically and mentally. We run sessions in art studios, science labs, and disciplinary-neutral spaces such as the city streets, or on the moors. All participants inevitably shift their perspectives in relation to each other, whether that be the learning of scientific or artistic principles.
In order to facilitate collaboration, we have developed our ‘Ideas Generation Sessions’ where participants learn about each others’ research and go through a series of making exercises. The structure of the sessions allows starting points for projects to emerge and collaborations to form. As a result of these sessions we now have 6 working groups, exploring an array of interdisciplinary themes. In addition, we also run field trips, workshops, reading groups and talks, which allow for shared experiences and discussion but without the pressure of any tangible output.
To find out more about the sessions we’ve run and the working groups, look at our website here.