Arts and Sciences (BASc)


BASC0020 Art and Interdisciplinarity: Measuring the World

Lecturer:Alfonso Borragán
Suitable for:Cultures
Assessment:10-15 minute presentation (20%), coursework (30%), final project (50%)
Taught:Term 2 of Year 2
Seminar: 1-4pm on Mondays
Lecture: 9-11am on Tuesdays
Workshop: 2-5pm on Wednesdays before Reading Week
Tutorials*: 9am-1pm on Mondays after Reading Week.
Final assessment: 9am-1pm on Wednesday 25 April 2018
*Students would agree a tutorial time from the above 4-hour slot with the module leader beforehand and are not required to attend the whole four hours.

This module will provide an experience in interdisciplinary thinking, but one strongly influenced by the perspective and production of the course leader. It will call on a wide-ranging set of materials from art, anthropology, architecture, philosophy, biology, physics, mathematics, neurology and geology and introduce the students to the work of some thinkers and practitioners working in those areas. Further, it will visit a diversity of experts on different fields to contribute and experiment with the aforementioned materials. To sum up, the module will be enriched with the projects and interests of each student contributing to the interdisciplinary dimension of the module.

The aims of the module include:

  • Supporting students in developing their creative skills and artistic thinking.
  • Expand their referents and their approach to different subjects.
  • Highlighting the subjective notion of measure and the structure of thinking.
  • To encourage the exchange of ideas and hybrid of collective work.
  • Demonstrate the potential of the interdisciplinary artistic practice.
  • Encourage the students to develop a small fine art project.

On completion of the module, students should:

  • Understand and be able to use artistic thinking.
  • Generate critical thinking about measure structures in relation to creativity and thought.
  • Understand the variety of formats that art can acquire.
  • Know how to implement creative processes in the development of a project.
  • Appreciate collective work and hybrid systems. 
  • Understand art as a research system.

In his writing On Exactitude in Science, Jose Luis Borges quotes a short story about a 1:1 scale map from Suarez Miranda, his own pseudonym. The paradoxical story of this map, even belonging to the realm of literature, may allow us to think of and reconstruct the history of science, the history of philosophy, the history of art and the history of gaze.

Since time immemorial human beings have developed tools and systems to measure time and space in order to understand and speak of the world they lived in. Measure indicates one of the first modes of relation between man and his surroundings, an initial approach to the creation of scientific models by means of successive comparisons, processes of standardization and abstraction. For instance, the first calendar, a bone engraved with the 28 moons of a month and created 13.000 years ago by a Palaeolithic observer, is probably one of the first manifestations of a conceptual interpretation of time. In this sense, measuring is not only a scientific operation to ascertain the quantity of things; it is also a cultural move that involves the production of images, the development of representational thinking and the processes of abstraction inscribed into the realms of the measurable and the incommensurable (that which escapes the limits of any system).  

This way, measuring is considered here as an activity that relates Science and Art through creativity, fictional systems and language production, ultimately producing knowledge in the intersection between scientific rigor and imagination. 

Students enrolled on the module can view more information on Moodle.