“Useful Fictions” Summer school
A biennial arts-design-science encounter

An intensive week combining workshops, conferences, and exhibitions, to put into work(s) and practice(s) questions about contemporary ecological issues. Objective: to build new narratives on ecological thinking.

Useful Fictions • 3 : Symbiosis

Paris, 26.06-02.07, 2023

3rd edition of “Useful Fictions”, La Chaire Arts & Sciences’ biennial Summer School in partnership with:
• Chaire Développement durable de l’École polytechnique • Centre Interdisciplinaire Arts Sciences Citoyens, Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IP Paris) • Hexagram, international network of practiced-based research (Montréal) • SIANA, Towards New Imaginaries  • Télécom Paris • Théâtre de la Ville • UQAM – Design School (Montréal)

A week of meetings and practices to question our links to our living and technological environments and to develop a sensitive dialogue at the crossroads of the arts and sciences: installations, robotics, fictions, performances…
30 participants expected
15 supervisors
6 interdisciplinary/practice-based research labs and 1 research-creation workshop
1 week of common practices: from 26 to 30.06.2023, Campus of the IP Paris, Palaiseau
1 public exhibition weekend: 1 & 2 July 2023, Théâtre de la Ville, Espace Pierre Cardin

At a time of climate1fffffffffffdisruption and systemic dysfunction, the event will explore the potential of sym1fffffbiotic imaginaries*, by conceiving technological and biological variations on the theme of the common sharings, in order to apprehend what is at stake in the 1ffffffffffffffffffffinterstices and our faith in collective intelligence empowerment.

Can we conceive new co1fffffffffffffffffffffffoperations with the living, the learning machines and the connected objects? Can we transform them into symbiotic allies in the face of environmental1fffand social challenges? Can we draw inspiration from physical models to
sketch out new narratives?

Open Call
Application form: deadline April 17, 2023

Useful Fictions • 2 : Prendre racine (Taking Root)

Poitiers, July 4–11, 2021

Summer workshop co-organized by La Chaire Arts & Sciences and Espace Mendès France / Lieu Multiple in Poitiers, in partnership with the Sustainable Development Chair of École Polytechnique, La Scène de Recherche (ENS Paris-Saclay), SIANA (Evry), EESI (École européenne supérieure de l’image de Poitiers), ENSI-Poitiers, the PPrime Institute (P’), Les Usines (Ligugé) and with support from Labex LaSIPS.

A week of meetings to question our relationships with our plant and digital environment, which are being made more acute by the current health and climate context.

20 participants
13 supervisors
5 research-creation workshops:

LAB1 | “À l’écoute du monde d’après” (“Listening to the World Beyond”)
Supervisors Anouk Daguin, artist and doctoral student in arts & sciences (École Polytechnique), assisted by Esther Chevreau-Damour (Master 2 in anthropology-Université de Lyon 2)

LAB2 | “Devenir plante : voir par le corps” (“Becoming Plant: seeing with the body”) (infrared architecture)
Supervisors: Jean-Marc Chomaz (artist-physicist, co-head of La Chaire Arts & Sciences) and three researchers from the PPrime Institute

LAB 3 | “Tépales, Sépales, Pétales : croissance en états d’artificialité” (“Tepals, Sepals, Petals: growth in states of artificiality”)
Supervisors: Giancarlo Rizza (Nanophysicist, LSI – École Polytechnique) and Antoine Desjardins (artist, EnsadLab, École des Arts Décoratifs)

LAB 4 | “Paysages immatériels – Topologie des flux & empreinte physique du numérique” (“Immaterial Landscapes – Topology of flows & physical footprint of digital technology”)
Supervisors: Raphaëlle Kerbrat (EnsadLab doctoral student) and Hervé Pérard (chief representative of SIANA)

LAB 5 | “Reconnaissance faciale : des visages, des mondes” (“Facial recognition: faces, worlds”)
Supervisors: Nathalie Guimbretière (designer, Ens Paris-Saclay), Hervé Jolly (visual artist, EESI) and Chloé Desmoineaux (artist)

This intensive week ended with an exhibition at Espace Mendès France on the weekend of July 10 and 11, to present, to a broad public, the creations (e.g., prototypes, photographs, videos, drawings, diagrams) and performances developed during the week, to a broad public.


Useful Fictions #2 : Prendre Racine took place at the same time as the summer seminar devoted to the Great Green Wall.

Champs magnétiques (Magnetic Fields)

Summer workshop – arts & sciences residency

SIRENE Observatory, Lagarde d’Apt | July 18-25, 2010

From July 18 to 24, 2020, the L.A.C. / Laboratoire d’Art Contemporain and La Chaire Arts & Sciences (École Polytechnique, École des Arts Décoratifs-PSL, and the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation), held an “arts & sciences” workshop in partnership with the SIRENE Astronomical Observatory (Plateau d’Albion, Lagarde d’Apt, France). The number of participants was limited because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

This week of creation entitled Champs magnétiques brought together scientists, researchers, and artists—including three choreographers. They explored our links to matter, to living things, to geology, and to space, at various locations in the Plateau d’Albion territory of the Pays d’Apt and Luberon areas. This interdisciplinary program mixed botany, entomology, geology, physics, astronomy, sound and choreographic creation, as well as in situ installations.

At the invitation of La Chaire Arts & Sciences and in collaboration with the association L.A.C. and with participation by: choreographers Agata Jarosova, Aniara Rodado, and Emma Terno; composer Marco Suárez-Cifuentes; artists Olivia Gigue and Ariel Kupfer; and geologist Didier Nectoux.
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Useful Fictions #1 : Prendre la mesure (Scoping out)

École Polytechnique | Sept. 9–13, 2019

Five workshops spread out around the Polytechnique campus:

LAB1 | “Climate Measurements” | Site Instrumental de Recherche par Télédétection Atmosphérique (SIRTA), Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL): an artistic exploration of climate measurement tools to account for atmospheric pollution.

LAB2 | “A Microclimate of One” | Hydrodynamics Laboratory (LadHyX): visualization of atmospheric plumes produced by heat flow and convection of the human body. Objective: help us become aware of our ecological impact.

LAB3 | “4D Additive Manufacturing: from Printing to Animation” | Irradiated Solids Laboratory (LSI): animating 3D printed objects biomimetically, enabling speculation on possible short-term applications of 4D printing linked to environmental changes.

LAB4 | “Data Materia” | Fablab | Drahi Center: materialization and prototyping of digital data, particularly related to climatology.

LAB5 | “Making, Engagement & Reflexivity”: ecofeminist workshop questioning scientific methodology and non-academic knowledge, with a performance linked to analysis of soil of the Polytechnique campus.

1ffff 18 student artists, scientists, designers, architects, and activists from all over the world.

1ffff 24 French and international researchers, professors and artists to guide them in their reflection.

In addition to several exhibitions (Drahi Center of École Polytechnique, the Hus Gallery in Paris, and UC Irvine) of prototypes, videos, photos and installations, a presentation evening was held at the Consulate of the American Embassy. Speakers included climatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte and students from École Polytechnique’s Sustainable Development Association, who are signatories of the manifesto of students for an ecological awakening.
Useful Fictions
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A partnership between the University of California (UC Davis, University of California, Irvine, and UCLA) and École Polytechnique, organized by La Chaire Arts & Sciences and with support from the Sustainable Development Chair/EDF of École Polytechnique. Five workshops, two of which were designed and run by École des Arts Décoratifs – PSL.