It’s been just under 24 hours since I posted Art, Science and Safety, but I have been slowly mulling over the issues in my mind. Today I happened to catch a BBC Radio 4 ‘Analysis’ podcast that discussed visual material which produces an emotional response, and how that affects subsequent behaviour. The program helped me develop my original ideas on safety because it discussed the way material interacts with people.
As with science, where action, reaction and interaction are key elements of our understanding, so the same seems to apply to art and performance. Interaction, and how we interact, relates to most of the categories I chose for this blog. On the one hand I have Why Scotland, Why East Kilbride, where science is being used for a modern art performance to (hopefully) mentally interact with the audience – that’s ‘Experience’; on the other hand I have my lab, where chemical interactions give me my results and observations – that’s ‘Experiment’; and in the middle ground I am interacting with the public to showcase science – that’s ‘Engagement’.
Two illustrations from either end of the scale: first chemical, then ‘artistic-al’. Concentrated sulphuric acid is fine in a glass bottle, I can even shake the bottle to see how much acid I have left for my experiment. It’s when the acid it gets into an place where it can interact with me (say I drop the bottle!) that it gets risky. It’s the same process for art: if I don’t see an artistic piece it has no effect on me, I might see it but have some sort of ‘mental barrier’ protecting me, but if that art piece becomes powerful enough to split that barrier, to ‘get under my skin’, to interact with me – that’s when it becomes, again, risky.
For Cryptic Nights my whole safety concern is centred around the sections where the chemistry will interact with the audience and the physical consequences of that interaction. In the first Art, Science and Safety post I also touched on the emotional consequences of what we might do. But in both cases, the risk, is always, in the interaction. If we can get the dispersal of the odorants right, the audience will have no choice but to interact: this piece will get right up their noses!
Hopefully in a good way….