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Diffracting Matters

Mar 31, 2019

Diffraction is a useful metaphor that allows us to consider difference outside the ordinary paradigm of binary opposition, and to explore the potential of differentially creating new patterns of thought. Diffraction also lends a novel semantic to scientific knowledge, in line with developments in quantum field theory: instead of a static science reflecting an objective world or a disinterested measurement, we move into a space of embedded involvement with the world we seek to understand. In this world, we cannot remain impartial observers – our very observation entangles us within its unraveling.

With these thoughts in mind, The Flute & the Bowl, Oxford University’s Art and Ecology Network, has brought together 14 artists from the Ruskin School of Art and 14 scientists from departments across the University, to investigate what a collaboration between Art & Science can offer on the subject of Climate Crisis.

Taking on this collaboration was no small order for practitioners working in fundamentally different fields, ranging from quantum physics to sculpture, from material science to video art. But faced with the vastly intersectional, global-scale threat of climate catastrophe, no one field could claim to hold all the solutions, and from this understanding, our collaboration arose. A diffraction strategy allowed us to share our ideas across disciplines without silencing, watching their frequencies collide, coincide, align, interfere and amplify, as new patterns of thought emerged.

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