La Chaire Arts & Sciences Manifesto

Cooperating for perceived and reasoned interdependence

La Chaire Arts & Sciences was created in 2017 and is sponsored jointly by École Polytechnique, École des Arts Décoratifs and the Fondation Daniel and Nina Carasso. This union formed by a foundation committed to “Citizen Art” and two learning and research establishments works to develop a set of activities inspired by cooperation and interdependence: among disciplines, between the academic world and civil society, and between humans and their earthly and technical environments. How can we act together against a backdrop of ecological emergency, societal uncertainties, and technological and financial developments that haven’t taken into account the common good? How can we reconsider our relations of interdependence(s), our forms of interaction, and our perceived relationships, between humans and non-humans?

These wide-ranging questions are representative of the complexity of our era. They call not for a single definitive answer, but for proposals and experiments aimed at restructuring our ways of thinking and acting. These will have to:

  • combine research and creation in order to establish radically cross-cutting and citizen-based forms of representation, so as to make as many people as possible understand the need to consider the world as a common good;

  • consider all artistic and scientific research not only as a producer of new knowledge and forms, but also as an ongoing critical activity of its objectives, its means, and its societal and environmental impact;

  • rethink scientific and artistic training so that it promotes the common good rather than sectoral interests and individual success;
  • develop, through practice, forms of cooperation that take on a relationship that is both committed and thought-out with techniques, as a factor of experimentation and shared know-how.

This redistribution of roles now calls for putting into perspective the central position that human beings have given themselves and, by the same token, their claim to control the Earth. Above and beyond multidisciplinary cooperation, we now need widespread cooperation that includes all citizens and that also recognizes that other species, ecosystems, and territories have their own form of citizenship, that of a city-world. By drawing on technical, scientific, and artistic practices as well as on the situated knowledges of citizens, this cooperation must become operational and have impact on the environment and society. To implement and share this vision, La Chaire Arts & Sciences is developing its activities by uniting three main forms:

  1. It uses research-creation projects that combine many disciplines (including non-academic knowledge and know-how) and many players (plants, machines, etc.). These projects lead to productions and shared knowledge in the form of works, systems to be experimented, instruments, and publications.

  2. It uses a training-by-doing approach based on such projects and work processes in order to engage students in collective learning-by-doing, with constant attention paid to all stakeholders, whatever their spatial or temporal scales (from the atom to the oceans). These commitments take place through workshops, summer schools, and multidisciplinary courses.

  3. It invents situations aimed at renewing relationships with the public and even at constituting and mobilizing people. New formats of “publicization” are therefore invented and tested. These include posters-brunches, exhibitions-tests, thesis defenses-demos, public workshops, round table performances (Dissect) and an image-based multi-platform revue: .able.

These three approaches give rise to exploration of fields relating to complex contemporary as well as forward-looking issues :

  • cooperation with the power of action or even life, of the atmosphere (Forms of Water), of matter (Responsive Matter), and of objects (Behavioral Objects);

  • participation in setting up ecosystems that testify to multi- and trans-species attention (Plant Alliances);

  • large- and nano-scale observation of the scintillation of matter (Luminescent Cosmos);

  • rethinking on the use and materiality of data from an ecological and ethical perspective in the era of Cloud Computing and Machine Learning (Data Scape).