Broad Vision: Inspired by... Images from Science

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ISBN: 978-0-9550951-6-0 © Broad Vision, The University of Westminster 2012 All rights reserved. Co-authored by Broad Vision student and staff researchers, with a foreword by Robert Devcic. Edited by Heather Barnett. Cover image: Tom Langley




SECTION 1: INTRODUCTIONS...........................1 Preface: About this book.................................... 4 Foreword: Curating art and science.................... 6 Broad Vision: An experiment in learning............. 8 Acknowledgments.............................................. 10 SECTION 2: STIMULUS...................................... 12 Images from Science 2....................................... 18 Introductions and interpretations......................... 24 DISCIPLINARY EXCHANGE................................ 29 In the laboratory................................................ 30 In the studio....................................................... 34 Reflections on disciplinary exchange................... 38 INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH......................... 41 Creative conversations....................................... 42 Informal learning............................................... 44 Collaborative learning........................................ 46 SECTION 3: RESPONSE..................................... 48 Trick of the Light................................................. 54 Catching Time................................................... 62 Fractals and Patterns.......................................... 68 Hidden Forces................................................... 86 Little Creatures................................................... 94 Being Human..................................................... 102 SECTION 4: OBSERVATIONS............................. 116 An interdisciplinary undertaking......................... 122 Reflections......................................................... 123 Live dissection.................................................... 124 Responsive curriculum and meditative media....... 126 Collaborative chaos in the studio and laboratory. 130 Afterword: Emergence and evolution.................. 136 Project outputs................................................... 138











Inspired by… Images from Science is the second book in the series documenting and discussing the Broad Vision art/science research and learning programme at the University of Westminster, which brings together students and university lecturers from diverse disciplines to engage in collaborative exchange and experimentation. The book is co-authored by the undergraduate students and academic staff who participated in the 2012 programme, bought together under my editorial direction as Broad Vision project lead. Additional contributions are gratefully acknowledged from relevant leaders in their field, be it the curation of art/science products or the research of interdisciplinary education. Part exhibition catalogue and part educational treatise, Inspired by… Images from Science defines the approaches taken to interdisciplinary learning through the Broad Vision project, shares the multiple outcomes, and reflects on the project from the diverse positions of both participants and observers. Section One introduces the landscape of art/science education and sets it within the wider framework of interdisciplinary cultural production. Section Two defines the aims and objectives of the project and explores the educational approaches taken to connect students and academics from diverse disciplines, looking at how artists and scientists worked together through enquiry, dialogue and experimentation. In Section Three, the results of the collaborative activity are shared through the images, artworks and narratives of the student participants, who influenced each other’s thinking and approaches. The fourth and final section reflects on the individual experiences of the Broad Vision project as viewed by students, staff and the project’s educational researcher.


Throughout the book, questions are raised regarding the nature of interdisciplinary research and creative enquiry, the need for more fluid approaches to teaching and learning in higher education, and the status of academic hierarchies and faculty relationships. We envisage this book to be of interest to a broad sector of people including researchers and practitioners in the arts and sciences, teachers and educational researchers, and others of an innovative interdisciplinary disposition. We hope that the book can provide both a model and a case study for art/science learning in higher education, as institutions slowly embrace the need for more cross-territory exchange.

HEATHER BARNETT BROAD VISION PROJECT LEAD Heather Barnett is a visual artist, researcher and educator working with biological systems and scientific processes. She is a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Photographic Arts at the University of Westminster, where she leads the Broad Vision project.



When I was asked to go and see a university exhibition entitled Broad Vision: Inspired by... Images from Science, I thought it might turn out to be a waste of time – but curiosity got the better of me and so I set off to view it with an open mind. En route, I began asking myself questions, such as, ‘Was science going to be the point of inspiration, or was science being illustrated?’ or conversely, ‘What will the exhibitors know about contemporary art?’. The interest in art and science collaborations is increasing at such a rate that it is now almost impossible to keep up with activities around the UK, let alone the rest of the world. For example, universities are now offering BA and MA courses in Art and Science, with many more planning to follow suit in the next few years. Yet, when my gallery, GV Art, began – championing artists who work in creative dialogue with scientists – the now much-celebrated marriage of art and science wasn’t even on its first date. And we were already welcoming the offspring of this union as they were brought, screaming and disturbing, into the world. The late Steve Jobs said that the main reason for his success was his ability to bring art and science together: “The Macintosh turned out so well because the people working on it were musicians, artists, poets and historians – who also happened to be excellent computer scientists.” Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, in his MacTaggart lecture at the 2011 Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, decried the lack of contemporary interdisciplinary polymaths in British society: Over the past century, the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together. Both sides seem to denigrate the other – to use what I’m told is the local vernacular, you’re either a “luvvy” or a “boffin”. [The Victorian era] was a time


when the same people wrote poetry and built bridges. Lewis Carroll didn’t just write one of the classic fairy tales of all time. He was also a mathematics tutor at Oxford. James Clerk Maxwell was described by Einstein as among the best physicists since Newton, but was also a published poet. As the founder of GV Art, a contemporary art gallery which aims to explore and acknowledge the interrelationship between art and science and how these areas cross over and inform one another, I am exposed to a variety of conversations about aesthetic sensibilities. This privileged position gives me an ongoing source of discussions and interactions with those seeking art that questions, engages and continues to build our knowledge and experiences of what it is to be human. For me, this is why the exhibition, Broad Vision: Inspired by… Images from Science, was a triumph in so many ways. The strength of the intentions could be seen as you entered the gallery space. The exhibition was able to communicate a successful process-driven approach with very diverse outcomes. The curatorial coherence was established through the distinct sections in which the exhibition was presented, enabling the viewer to navigate the themes of interest and threads of enquiry. The collaborative nature of the interdisciplinary experience was also directly acknowledged in the accompanying texts. Broad Vision: Inspired by… Images from Science was a perfect example of how investigative processes of experiences can lead to knowledge and narratives, which generate curiosity and develop technique in the true sense of collaboration. The science illustrations were used as a stimulus for the discussions driving the process. There may have been some works that were illustrative but, at the same time, the students were not trying to pass this off as contemporary art, but as

examples that gave context and added meaning to the art in the thematic group. The strength of dialogue within the final exhibition demonstrated an ability to investigate knowledge, share ideas and explore the process and journey between disciplines, without being inhibited or preoccupied with specific outcomes, or driven by funders or other agendas that commercial artists often face. As demonstrated in Broad Vision, art and science collaborations should challenge collaborators to begin an enquiry into processes that can sometimes lead not only to changing mindsets, but also to engaging the creative processes that can lead to successful and highly productive outcomes. I would have been delighted to have hosted this exhibition at GV Art, for it succeeded in demonstrating perfectly what good art and science collaborations can produce – when creative conversations instigate works of art that stimulate and challenge: works that encourage viewers to investigate for themselves.

ROBERT DEVCIC DIRECTOR, GV ART GALLERY Robert Devcic is the founder and director of GV Art Gallery, London. Since 2005, he has been working to curate art and science experiences by working with versatile artists whose creativity is sparked by science and interdisciplinary dialogue. Robert is working to establish GV Art as a new model for contemporary art galleries, which aims to explore and acknowledge the inter-relationship between art and science.



The Broad Vision project began at the University of Westminster in the autumn of 2010. Funded by an internally advertised Interdisciplinary Pedagogic Learning and Teaching Fund, the project set out to explore student (and staff) exchange across disciplines, encourage the cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge, and observe the outcomes. The aim was to establish student-centred approaches to learning and teaching through consultation, collaboration and the sharing of skills within and across art and science disciplines. Our starting hypothesis was twofold: based on a firm belief that if you put students from diverse disciplines in a room together something interesting would happen; and, moreover, that if students were put in charge of their own learning they would develop a deeper engagement and a broader reach – in their own and related subject areas. In recent decades there has been a continual growth in areas of research and practice that operate at the intersections of art, science and technology. Driven by inquisitive artists and open-minded scientists, and supported by funding bodies such as The Wellcome Trust and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, this area of interdisciplinary enquiry has developed a strong foothold in cultural production, hosted by science museums and art galleries alike. The results of such cross-territory investigation and experimentation have been seen to produce artworks of great beauty, which also tackle complex ethical issues. They have invited public audiences to participate and raised questions for them to wrangle with; they have tested the core of scientific method and challenged the purpose of art; and they have provided a stimulus – of wonder, spectacle and debate. Critics of this ‘third culture’ believe that interdisciplinary practice between the arts and sciences can contribute little useful knowledge to either field, that one dilutes or undermines the other. But this misses vital points about what such activity can

offer. For collaborators, the process of dialogue across disciplinary divides can help challenge assumptions and realign disciplinary habits. The novelty of someone stepping into your territory (or you stepping into theirs) with a different set of objectives, knowledge, of assumptions and methodologies is in itself of great value to any researcher or practitioner. Working with disciplinary ‘others’ can help you see familiar subjects through fresh eyes, be forced to find alternative means of explanation, and – on a good day – enable you to gain novel insights previously unimagined. The collisions, misunderstandings and assumptions made at the interdisciplinary seam can themselves be the very catalyst to forge new ways of thinking about a problem, an idea, about a subject. You only have to look at the number of recent publications showcasing art/science enquiry – such as Myers (2012), Wilson (2010) and Ede (2005), to name but a few – and you will soon recognise that this area is progressive, questioning and really rather exciting. Much of this enquiry takes place within academic research departments, usually (though not by any means exclusively) with the artist entering a science environment and engaging with the processes, materials and sensibilities relevant to the scientific research. Sometimes this process will create opportunities for students at postgraduate or doctoral level, but very rarely will undergraduate students be exposed to such art/science research. The ethos of Broad Vision, therefore, was to offer opportunities for interdisciplinary research and learning to undergraduate students, and to examine what benefits could be gained from working across disciplinary divides. The project’s remit was concerned with creating novel and challenging environments in which students could learn from each other and work together, to build enquiry-based communities among students at different levels, to encourage partnership working between students and staff, and to provide real

world opportunities for students to develop professional skills and experience – be it in exhibition design, public speaking, academic writing or artistic production. For two years now, the project has run as an extra-curricula activity for self-selecting curious students keen to access areas otherwise out of bounds, to work with people they wouldn’t ordinarily meet, and to make work that might never have been conceived without the input from disciplinary ‘others’. The overarching theme employed throughout the project has been vision and perception: examining how we see, capture and interpret the world around us. The students recruited for the project – from the diverse areas of photographic arts, imaging science, illustration, computer science, psychology and life sciences – share an interest in how vision is mediated through imaging technologies, and in how we understand and create meaning from visual representations. Each year the project has taken as its starting point a set of images or a body of knowledge, to provide a catalyst for discussion across disciplinary divides and identify areas of common interest for collaborative research. Students use these stimuli as a springboard to frame questions and establish lines of enquiry. In its first year, microscopy was used to explore worlds beyond normal human vision. In this, the project’s second year, a collection of contemporary scientific images were employed and next year, an umbrella theme of ‘Data, Truth and Beauty’ will be interpreted from multiple perspectives.

some of whom have continued their involvement from one year to the next, moving from the role of student researcher to student facilitator and thereby having even greater input into the project’s growth. At the end of the three years, we hope to have learnt a great deal from our student researchers who have helped the project to evolve, about the insights and the frustrations of working across disciplinary divides. And we aim to have created a sustainable model for interdisciplinary learning, which can function successfully within higher education institutions.

REFERENCES Ede, S (2005) Art & Science, London/New York, IB Taurus Myers, W (2012) Bio Design: Nature, Science, Creativity, London, Thames and Hudson. Wilson, S (2010) Art & Science Now: how scientific research and technological innovation are becoming key to 21st century aesthetics, London, Thames and Hudson.

Since the first year’s learning experiment, a phased interdisciplinary educational model has been developed, tested and refined; numerous public outputs have been produced; further funding secured; and an interdisciplinary collaborative module accredited (to run for the first time in 2013). With three years funding and an embedded educational researcher on board, the data collected will span three generations of students,

Some ideas presented in this book are discussed in other Broad Vision publications, listed on page 138. This book specifically explores and showcases the art/ science class of 2012 who were inspired by images from science.




Participating Student Researchers: Silvia Berciano Benitez, Elizabeth Cowley, Anand Damodaran, Ramon de Assis Figueiredo, Joshua Dinsmore, Thais Dutra Muller, Sara Farajallah, Mellissa Fisher, Daniel Garside, Daniel Higginson, Zara Hoshi Miller Teece, Rebecca Krasnik, Jasmine Kuylenstierna, Maria Kyprianou, Thomas Langley, Chester Long, Moacir Lopes, Alice Mercier, Panikos Michaelides, Lena Mishnekova, Katharina Nylias, Frida Petersson, Jon Roscorla, Monika Voychik Lis, Simon Westgate, Jessica Whatmore, Jasmine Willis Working with Academic Staff: Elizabeth Allen, Heather Barnett, Dr Mark Clements, Christine McCauley, John Smith, Dr Viren Swami Educational Researcher: Dr Silke Lange Project Lead: Heather Barnett


With additional input during early phases of the project from the following students: Swati Barnwal, Chantelle Bell, James Bennett, Simon Berry, Jack Carvosso, Caroline Champion, Shona Coke, Brittany Davidson, Imogen Denley, Karin Jonsson, Rasha Jorany, Georgina Knock, Myrto Kremyda-Vlachou, Samuel Lawrence, Ellen Moore, Fiona Rutherford, Atifa Sanayee, Mohit Santilal, Joseph Warren, Liam Willday

The exhibition ‘Images from Science 2’ was originally organised by Professor Michael Peres and Professor Andrew Davidhazy of the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA. The exhibition was brought to the UK courtesy of the BioCommunications Association. With special thanks to Paul Crompton of the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Broad Vision photography by Chiara Ceolin, Natalia Janula and Joshua Dinsmore. Additional exhibition images by Heather Barnett and Dave Freeman.

Additional thanks go to Mark Turmaine for introducing the team to the Electron Microscopy Unit at University College London, and to Daniel Rees and colleagues at the Wellcome Trust Library for a fascinating introduction to their collections.

Broad Vision is funded by the University of Westminster Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Research Fund and supported by the Schools of Media, Arts and Design; Life Sciences; and Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages. Special thanks to Professor Lesley-Jane Earls-Reynolds and Dr Dalene McShane and all at Westminster Exchange; the School of Life Sciences, Professor Jane Lewis, Dr Bob Scott, Suhel Miah, Glen Wotherspoon; the School of Media, Arts and Design, Sally Feldman, Andy Golding, Dave Freeman, Jae Park, Silke Lange, Alan Fisher; and the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages, Professor Hazel Dewart, Dr Mark Gardner. Special thanks also to Aviva Leeman and Michael Maziere at London Gallery West. Our thanks extend to the University of Westminster marketing team for their contribution and commitment to the making of this book, especially to Hannah Green, Rebecca Brown and Derek Power.








This section sets out the Broad Vision learning programme and defines how a range of stimuli and environmental conditions were employed to engender interdisciplinary learning and transdisciplinary exchange. The phases of the project are described, accompanied by photographic documentation and evaluation material collected from students at different stages of the project. The first stimulus, used to provoke discussion and diverse interpretation, was the Images from Science 2 (IFS2) collection. This was followed by a series of student-led taster sessions introducing aspects of each discipline area to the rest of the group. Students’ research interests and project ideas took shape through informal creative learning activities and virtual conversations online, with further stimulus provided through external visits to key research resources, galleries and scientific laboratories. The aim of the learning programme was to offer a rich feeding ground to inspire students and stimulate innovative thinking. The activities were designed to provide a range of platforms for knowledge exchange, collective creativity, and interdisciplinary learning. The following pages trace the timeline of the project and reveal how 40 students from across three schools, five departments and ten courses interacted and learnt from each other.



Hans U. Danzebrink and Anna-Maria Gleixner

IMAGES FROM SCIENCE 2 Images from Science 2 is a collection of diverse images from the world of science – created via technologies as varied as large format black and white photography, atomic force microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging and the Hubble Space Telescope. The collection, brought together originally as a touring exhibition by Rochester Institute of Technology (USA), demonstrates the ability of imaging technologies to shift our perspectives and aid our understanding of the world, enabling us to see the unseen from the microscopic to the astronomic.

Charles Hedgcock

This collection of contemporary scientific images, used in several key sessions on the project, provided a broad stimulus for creative conversations about the art and science of imaging techniques and the interpretation of image content. The exchanges were both challenging and enlightening (and at times amusing), and highlighted the differences and similarities in student disciplinary perspectives. The images encouraged those involved to step out of the boundaries of their own subject specialisms and explore a number of possible interpretations from different points of view, to see the images ‘through other people’s eyes’. Many thanks are extended to those who produced the original images and the resulting exhibition and book, and for allowing us to use the images as a stimulus within the Broad Vision project. Cropped images are reproduced here with permission. For more information about the Images from Science 2 collection see the exhibition catalogue: Peres, M. and Davidhazy, D. (ed), (2008), Images from Science 2: An Exhibition of Scientific Photography, RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press or online at: index.html

Robert L. Hurt

David Teplica

Eugene Kowaluk

Zoltan Levay

Gregory A. Cooksey


Thom Brommerich

Linda L. Broadfoot


Norman Barker

Kevin Brennan and Will Jaeckle

Lars Christensen

Paul Crompton

José Estévez


Dee Breger

Robert L. Hurt

Thom Brommerich

Harald Kleine

Gregory A. Cooksey

Ted Kinsman

Hans U. Danzebrink

James E. Hayden

Kenneth Libbrecht

David Malin

James E. Hayden

Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa

Torey Miller

Heidi and Hans-Jürgen Koch

Shannon McCook

Oliver Meckes and Nicole Ottawa

Joe Ogrodnick


Jim R. Oramas

Gary S. Settles

David Paul

Seth Ruffins

Michael Schenk and Robert Gray

Mary Spano

Scott Streiker

David Paul

Jim Wehtje


Phred Petersen

Bob Turner

Jim Wehtje

Kent Wood

David Walker

George Cook

Henry Schleichkorn

Viktor Sykora

Donald Anthony

Chris J. Barry

Angela Chappell

Heidi and Hans-J端rgen Koch

Paul Whitten

Kevin Mackenzie

Kenneth Libbrecht

Felice Frankel

Ted Kinsman

Phred Petersen

Viktor Sykora

Paul Whitten

Lennart Nilsson




The first time the students from the different courses met, they engaged in an ‘image interpretation speed dating exercise’. The aim here was to mix people across disciplinary divides from the outset, to maximise multiple interactions, and to expose both differences and similarities in ways of seeing and in understanding visual information.

1: Discussing an unknown image and trying to work out subject and scale


Students were asked to discuss images from the Images from Science 2 collection prompted by given questions, which were sometimes literal (eg What are you looking at?), sometimes contextual (eg Where would you see it?), and sometimes purposefully bizarre (eg Why would you want one?, or, What would you call it?). In pairs students faced an image and, with pen in hand, jotted down their thoughts and interpretations. Pairs changed


every few minutes, a new combination of students responding to a new stimulus of image/question. It was not intended that the questions should generate correct answers, more that the prompts should stimulate a mass of discussion – disagreement or consensus – thereby exposing students to a great number of alternative interpretations to a shared stimulus.

Students moved from one image to the next, from a literal question to one requiring more lateral thought, meeting a new person from a different discipline at every turn. As the room rotated, students drew on their existing knowledge and engaged their imaginations.

2: Multiple conversations and diverse interpretations


STUDENT OBSERVATIONS CAPTURED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE SESSION Using the different disciplines of the group as a positive point when rounding up, not as a negative, to account for the different approaches/ ideas/interpretations.


Exciting but challenging task, but a great way to meet people from different disciplines and see their views compared to my own on certain images. Good way to see how just a simple exercise is done differently from different perspectives.

Each next conversation was better, as if creative and social parts of the brain had warmed up to work better.



3: Sharing observations and thoughts at the end of the session 4: Imaginative conversations in response to the question ‘Why would you like one?’ 5: Deductive responses to the question ‘What is the image for?’


People are open to ideas. Bouncing ideas off each other. There is nothing right or wrong. Nature and art are inter-related. Beauty can be found in the simplest of things.

People are used to very different ways of thinking and reasoning, and this process in itself is a very useful experience!

Being right isn’t always necessary. Huge variety of viewpoints. It was good to hear everyone’s interpretations in the large group.

Interpreting images with people who have a different background was both challenging and enjoyable. I realised that it is very hard to provide a precise answer when you don’t really know what you are looking at, and what technique has been used to capture the image. I now feel curious and think that I have a lot to learn. This project will help me broaden my perspective.


DISCIPLINARY EXCHANGE It would be naive to expect students from different disciplinary backgrounds to have knowledge of each other’s subject matter, understanding of approaches to research, or even an appreciation of how each other thinks. The first part of the process of interdisciplinary thinking, therefore, was to establish each individual discipline in its own right. Each group devised and delivered a short taster session by way of introduction to their materials and methods, their motivations and preoccupations. These tasters took the form of an experiment, a demonstration or a creative workshop, and took place in learning environments specific to each subject area, such as a laboratory, studio, darkroom, or classroom.






The first week of taster sessions saw students from life science and imaging science courses introducing us to their disciplines through the optics of a microscope. White coats acted as a leveller as students worked in the laboratory, many for the first time. On entering the space, students were subjected to a thorough health and safety induction. They were instructed by the science students how to wear lab coats and gloves, and how to handle biological materials. They were then directed to microscope benches where they encountered a range of specimens, with students on hand to field questions. On one bench pots of water, collected earlier in the day from Regent’s Park, revealed a microscopic world teaming with fresh pond life. On another, slides of healthy and diseased lung tissue could be compared, and a third bench demonstrated bacterial reproduction in live yoghurt. The life sciences students had selected specimens that would show a range of biological structures and processes, and that they thought would be most visually interesting to others.

1: Observing microscopic life from Regent’s Park pond 2: Science student explaining the differences between healthy and unhealthy lung tissue to non-scientists



3: Experts and novices moving around the lab, having informal conversations around the microscopes


STUDENT OBSERVATIONS CAPTURED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE SESSION Really enjoyed hearing what people outside the life sciences thought of what they saw down the microscope; “It looks like it’s painted”, “I love how you can adjust the contrast”. All students were positive and attentive. It was wonderful.


The next group, consisting of imaging scientists, also used the microscopes, but instead of looking at biological material they asked the group to place their mobile phones under the optics. All image content on the screen was reduced to three pixel colours: red, green, and blue. From screen to printed image, the next sample to examine was an inkjet print, the layers of ink a myriad of colour, shape and texture. Lastly, a challenge was set to locate hidden faces of the group members within microscopic slides, shrinking them to this size a technical feat in itself. These activities revealed more about the processes involved in mediating vision through microscopy and challenged assumptions made about colour perception and image representation.

New found respect and insight for the discipline and their use of microscopes. I’ve learnt a lot and seen some strange but interesting things that I’ve never seen before.

Enjoyed teaching people about scientific imaging. Liked working within the lab. Loved messing with equipment. Fun!

Thank you very much for today. Was very interesting to look at something through the microscope as an illustrator because you don’t get to see these kind of things everyday where we are! The living organisms were the best. Once again, mother nature proved herself as the best artist.

Everything is a smaller version of another thing. I wish I’d bought my camera.

Pretty surreal and really magical seeing some of the things through the microscope, which you wouldn’t see because they’re so small – incredible!

Today I saw evidence of how science and technology related to the real world. Studying theories is not enough, one should engage with people of different backgrounds and dare to explain the theory behind the living world.

Very interesting – really opens your eyes to something I would never really think about. The instructions were very easy to follow – I didn’t feel worried that I knew nothing about what I was doing.

4: Capturing microscope images of printed ink with phone cameras






The following week students from courses in illustration, psychology and photographic arts ran short taster sessions designed to introduce others to their disciplines. The psychologists ran a test assessing individual character and artistic preference. The suggestion was that particular personality types have a liking for specific forms of art and aesthetic considerations,

such as modern or traditional styles, geometric or natural forms. Everybody participated in the test, making a value judgement on individual images projected on the screen. The results were then analysed and – along with the interpretations – were shared with the group at the end of the day – to murmurings of agreement from some quarters and grumbles of disagreement from others.



The photography students devised a mini project brief. Working in small groups, students were given a word and asked to select five associated objects from a table. They then had to construct a still life or portrait in the studio and take a photograph on a large format camera loaded with direct positive paper. This was then processed in the darkroom and the resulting photographs shared at the end of the day with a pop-up exhibition, accompanied by an explanation of what the task demonstrated about production processes within photographic arts. 6


1: Psychology lecturer, Viren, running the artistic preference test 2: The multidisciplinary group completing the survey 3: Psychology students reveal the results of the test about personality traits and artistic preference


4: Laying out chosen objects to create a still life 5: Observing the developing process in the darkroom 6: Checking the results as they dry


The illustrators selected some images from the IFS2 collection and broke them down to a set of written instructions, which were then read out for people to draw or paint. Participants donned bin liners for protection and, following the instructions given, drew according to how they interpreted what they heard. The resulting collective drawings and paintings shared some common ground in broad terms of colour and general shapes, but were highly individual in terms of scale, form and style.

STUDENT OBSERVATIONS CAPTURED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE SESSION Fun to see the darkroom and develop our own photos. And the illustration section worked much better than I thought. This thing is kind of nerdy but in a really positive and fun way. Nice to see people draw who don’t usually.


Felt very good today. Getting hands dirty, so careless… It is exactly the opposite of my course, where to start with, we wear gloves and more often than not, there is only one way, a right way, to do something.



Really interesting seeing how when you’re given instructions to draw a specific thing – your mind creates something different – interesting and fun!

Everything is subjective.

Loved getting messy and following a brief where the subject was hidden until the end. It was good to introduce others to the darkroom and learn about how personality links to preferences about art.

Interesting to see different approaches to disciplines through the forms of the briefs. Will be beneficial in future.

Felt my mind stimulated in another way. There is a relaxing effect to art. Brings out the human in us. Darkroom was quite an experience. I would like to come back for another session. Would like to take up some lessons in photography. We say in science that everything is made of something smaller – as is art from what I saw today.

Ah, the final session with the slide presentations and explanations made it all make sense! Before, I’d not seen the full relevance of the psychology or photography activities, fun and interesting though they were. Illustration instructions were very brief – maybe it was intended to produce more abstract results, ‘cos that’s what they got.

7: Different interpretations and representations from a common description 8: Students and staff following verbal instructions of what to draw 9: Clinical Photography student Sara enjoying getting her hands dirty




The three studio activities demonstrated different aspects of subjectivity, in how we see images, how we construct mental maps, and how our individual preferences are influenced. The session focused on image appreciation or image making, in contrast to the previous week in the laboratory, which had involved observing natural and synthetic materials down the microscope and discussing what was found. Together the sessions introduced the whole group to different aspects of looking, seeing, capturing, making and interpreting. All activities involved direct handson experience in handling equipment and materials, and in working informally in small (and fluid) groups.

Through these activities students shifted position from expert (when running a session and sharing skills and knowledge with others) to novice (when participating in activities devised by others). This move, from familiar territories to unknown environments, highlighted both differences and similarities in methods and approaches. Many students commented on how it felt to share what they knew with others and enjoyed the excitement and wonder experienced by the novices. Whether it was a first time looking down a microscope, entering a darkroom, or making a collective painting – novelty had an impact. Strange environments and experiences are exciting, but only if you are made to feel safe and are guided through the unknown.


One of the most important parts of the project, for me, was the ability to show people what I do in my course and how differently I think to them. At the same time I enjoyed being introduced to their own disciplines which made me feel glad to be a part of the project.

I really enjoyed these interdisciplinary classes, and feel that they opened up my mind to the different subjects and how they work and think about things. It’s really valuable to have the opportunity to try and teach others what you’ve been taught, helps to condense and revise.



INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH Through the informal learning encounters of the taster sessions students had had multiple opportunities for random conversations, with ideas and interests seeded on the online network used to support the project. Possibilities for collaborative research clusters started to emerge from these interactions. We wanted to maximise the creative possibilities, for students to step out of their habitual patterns of working, and for individual ideas and practices to be enhanced through collaborative working. The aim was to create a dynamic learning environment, one in which the conditions were conducive to innovation, and where multiple possibilities could collide and connect. Small group activities were engineered to encourage divergent conversations, to open up students’ thinking around a particular theme, question, or prompt. These interactions and modes of collaboration are discussed in the following pages.




Six sub-themes emerged from the Images from Science 2 collection, which were used to seed discussion and the generation of project ideas. The themes, agreed by staff and student facilitators, were: Trick of the Light; Catching Time; Fractals and Patterns; Hidden Forces; Little Creatures; and Being Human. Primed a few days in advance, student researchers had time to think about what the themes meant to them and to do some preliminary research. In the session, students were encouraged to actively engage in several conversations, moving around the room, rather than commit to an individual idea too early. The Creative Conversations were set out across six tables, each hosting large blank paper and coloured pens, and each with a theme heading at its centre. Students formed small discussion groups and annotated their ideas onto the paper. After ten minutes, the groups interchanged randomly to form new configurations at different tables, to start new conversations, adding to the previous groups notes and ideas. This happened several times, each theme encouraging different lines of enquiry, each grouping generating their own ideas. Having opened up a vast number of possibilities for potential areas of research, suggested experiments and project proposals, students were then asked to return to the discussion area that held the strongest interest for them. With that group they developed a more focused direction for the projects they wished to pursue and so the interdisciplinary sub-groups were formed.

1: Students from different disciplines brainstorm ideas on the theme of Hidden Forces 2: Moving around the room to form new discussion groups








3: Students debate diverse perspectives on Being Human 4: Using IFS2 images to prompt discussion and stimulate ideas 5: IFS2 images and iPads used to aid discussion and develop project direction 6: Compiling and sharing ideas on the sub-theme of Fractals and Patterns



London, like any large city, is home to a great many archives, libraries and museums – a rich learning resource for students. However, many undergraduates don’t commonly use these resources. Students say they either don’t know they are there, aren’t sure of their relevance, or see them to be the domain of higher level research students or professional researchers and therefore not widely accessible.






1: Electron microscopy facilities at University College London 2: Clinical Photography student Moacir demonstrating the workings of a thermal imaging camera to Myrto, studying Physiology and Pharmacology 3: Introduction to the electron microscopy unit at University College London 4: Introduction to the collection of rare artefacts at Wellcome Library

One of the project aims in Broad Vision was to enhance research skills and broaden students’ perception of research culture more generally. A number of visits were therefore organised to introduce some key resources for interdisciplinary art/science research and practice. These visits were intended to break down perceived barriers to institutional resources. They also granted additional opportunity for informal conversations among the diverse student body, allowing ideas to develop further.



5: Gallery visit to Wellcome Collection Medicine Now exhibition 6: Student sizing up the exhibits in the Medicine Now exhibition at Wellcome Collection



Once the smaller research groups were established, students developed ideas and proposals for project work, sharing progress in class and online (through a collaborative network site). While the disciplinary workshops, creative conversations and external visits had provided opportunity for ideas to float freely, students now needed to focus and form proposals for self-set projects. As their thinking moved from divergent ideation to convergent planning, students needed to organise themselves – across disciplinary divides, distant campus sites, and often-conflicting timetables. No single model of collaborative working was prescribed; students were free to form methods of working within their research clusters. The staff team knew, from the previous year’s cohort and from personal experience, how challenging interdisciplinary research could be, particularly in light of the logistics of time, space and course commitments. Students were encouraged to share their work openly within their groups and to see what points of connection might emerge. Rather than forcing collaborative practice it was envisaged that students might be influenced and enlightened by contributions from others. If collaborative relationships formed from this process it was seen as a bonus, not necessarily a requirement.


The projects were intended to be exploratory and experimental, not averse to risk taking. As ideas developed, questions concerning vision, interpretation and communication were explored. Issues of subjectivity in science and objectivity in art were argued. Opinions about how art and science generated knowledge were aired. Experiments were devised to test the physical properties of substance and matter. Discussions on the fractal properties of natural forms were had. Students from different specialisms debated the physiological and philosophical aspects of what it means to be human. In short, discussions were had, ideas generated, connections made and assumptions challenged; experiments conducted, skills developed, minds expanded and artworks created. In the following section, the results of these activities and interactions are shared through the students’ final work and their own words. As you will see, their approaches varied greatly, in how they worked with subject matter, materials, techniques, and each other.










The processes and experiments of the interdisciplinary research phase resulted in a number of public outputs, creating opportunities for students to share their work, and their experiences, with audiences beyond the University. The project culminated in two exhibitions hosted by London Gallery West, University of Westminster, in May/June 2012. The first, Images from Science 2 (revisited), re-curated the diverse scientific images which had provided much stimulus and inspiration throughout the project. The students re-contextualised the images from the basis of their own research clusters, thereby connecting the source images to the resulting artworks and artefacts produced. This was followed by Inspired by…, an exhibition of the students’ work, using the same themed sub-groups. Twenty-six students contributed work to the exhibition, and a core group of ten worked with tutors to curate, organise and hang the exhibition. Inspired by… presented an unusual range of exhibits including microbial paintings in oil, photographic portraits taken under UV light, diagnostic x-rays, moulding food sculptures, and optical illusions, to name but a few. All were the results of students’ interdisciplinary enquiries and experiments.


1: Curatorial planning meeting for Images from Science 2 (revisited), selecting and arranging images within sub-group themes 2: Student curator running ideas by staff curators 3: Final exhibition of Images from Science 2 (revisited) in London Gallery West, May 2012 4: Final exhibition of Inspired by… in London Gallery West, May/June 2012

To accompany the exhibition two events were organised to extend audience engagement. A symposium offered students and staff on the project a discursive space to share their experience of working at the seam of art/ science, and to discuss the educational ethos at the heart of the Broad Vision project.



To complement the opening of the exhibition, Human and Medical Science student Ramon de Assis Figueiredo took guests on a guided tour through the anatomy of a pig’s vital organs. The performance of the live dissection invited (non-squeamish) guests to explore the connectivity of tissue and gain hands-on experience of material flesh. See page 124 for Ramon’s account of the dissection. The following pages are authored by the student researchers, grouped by the research clusters in which they worked. Here the students share the processes and products of their individual and collaborative explorations.






8 5: Gallery installation showing diverse artworks and artifacts 6: Student researcher discussing their work with an exhibition visitor 7: Student discussion panel at the Broad Vision symposium 8: Anatomical dissection at exhibition opening, London Gallery West





STATIC AFTERMATH A photograph can survive the physical death of its original subject. This makes photography an interesting medium to use when documenting traces of traces; what appears in the image is already gone. The question of what defines light in relation to colour was important inspiration for this project. I wanted to involve a forensic, clinical approach; using techniques and/or equipment traditionally applied to areas such as crime scene investigations or laboratory work, and creating a different context. Rather than working with inanimate objects I wanted to illustrate a sort of middle-ground between life and death; the visible and the invisible. With the idea of (possibly invisible) traces and patterns in mind, I started conducting experiments with animal blood; exploring its properties and how these could be documented, especially in relation to live subjects. I took pictures of blood as a first-hand as well as a second-hand source, fresh as well as in the form of patterns translated onto fabric, transformed from its liquid shape on skin into coloured gauze. This developed into an experimentation of something more fluid and multifaceted; taking pictures with ‘hidden’ light – that is, light invisible to the human eye.


Some knowledge of forensic techniques was important, so I would have something to compare my own abstract ideas to. I read about the importance of particular techniques, equipment, and angles used in forensic photography, as well as the factor of using colour or black and white imagery. These are all important points when it comes to tracing ‘true evidence’ and striving to accurately represent and reconstruct any event. In one book on the theme of blood stain pattern analysis, I happened upon the description of the forensic photographer’s work as documenting the ‘static aftermath’ of an event. This term was something I felt could also be applied to my focus on light and colour, although it slightly separated from the term’s original context – they both relate to how humans have developed the use of ‘invisible’ light such as ultraviolet and IR (infrared) in scientific studies. I conducted research about the electromagnetic spectrum, and the radiation in the range of wavelengths that humans can see – usually referred to as visible light. A typical human eye will respond to wavelengths from about 390 to 750nm (nanometres), with light-adapted sensitivity peaking around 555nm, in the green region of the optical spectrum. The light we are able to register affects the way we understand colours. Most cameras have some sort of built-in or added-on filter to adjust the intake of ultraviolet light, the same way our eyes do.

A number of IR windows as well as ultraviolet light lie just outside of the field of human vision, although many other species can see light at frequencies outside the ‘visible spectrum’. For example, bees and many other insects can detect ultraviolet light to help them find nectar in flowers. Certain plant species as well as birds also make use of ultraviolet radiation (300-400nm). This has been an exploration of factors invisible to the naked eye due to our optical limitations. It shows some of my own thoughts about how the strange, unknown and invisible encourage us to use our imagination to seek knowledge and stretch our notion of reality and truth. As clarity is not always a guarantee I wanted these images to be suggestive rather than self-evident, and represent an omnipresent notion of vulnerability and change.





I had previously worked on the Broad Vision project and so was very keen to get involved once again. Working in and among the different disciplines has been challenging but rewarding. Everyone has had a very different take on the project and so attempts at understanding have been slightly difficult, but the results have been great. My project area encompassed fluorescence photomicrography. The aim of the project had been to photograph fluorescent stained Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) bacteria under a fluorescent microscope.

My exploration led me to work with three different microscopes, each with their own limitations. The result of these limitations had been the production of images from a faulty light filtration system within one of the microscopes. Through my exploration I utilised a confocal microscope. In understanding how the microscope system achieved its imaging I created a series of images scanned from the same specimen. This series had then been transformed into an animation.

Inspiration for this project came from a fascination with optical microscopy and the phenomenon of fluorescence in general. I wanted to explore the systems involved in the visualisation and imaging of fluorescence along with the possible stains in use. I chose to work with bacteria, as this was readily available and easy to handle, also E. Coli in particular had become the laboratory model bacterium over the years.





In this project I have combined high-speed photography with ultraviolet fluorescence. I have experimented with moving objects, motion in liquids and capturing events in high speed before, as well as investigating fluorescence, as part of my degree. It was only when I discovered that many household objects fluoresced that I realised I could combine both techniques to create an interesting and fairly unique body of work. I experimented with various materials and techniques using both infrared and ultraviolet. Ultraviolet radiation is present through many light sources, however trying to get a fast burst of ultraviolet is normally very difficult. This project was made possible by Advanced Camera Services Ltd ( who kindly lent Broad Vision some equipment with modified spectral properties, including a specialist ultraviolet flash.






INTENSITY This project explores my interests in invisible light, a light that our eye is not able to capture but that we know exists. As the human body releases heat, every single touch can leave a mark over the skin. This touch can bring tranquillity to a baby or communicate friendship or even disagreement. The aim of this project was to capture this touch with an infrared thermal camera, exploring the heat impressions left by a child at a specific time of her life. The images may evoke our imagination or may bring memories of moments where a touch may make all the difference.





We live and exist in time, and our thoughts and actions are generated in it. Time is relative both in the way we experience its passing and in how we conceptualise its form visually. Many tools are created to manage and depict time, but still it proves difficult to visualise. In my project I have made use of some more or less common symbols depicting time, all which only consist of one line. Each drawing is drawn in four seconds, allowing my camera to capture it with a four-second exposure while I drew. With this project I like to explore how the perception of time can be expressed visually, both through drawing and photographing.






With this series I was trying to create an amalgamation of organic and inorganic forms, carefully merged together to create a single sort of Frankenstein’s monster in each composition. I decided to use smoke and ink in my work because I was interested in the chaos and complexity in their behaviour, in air or water. The endless forms created by nature, morphing from moment to moment. For the inorganic elements I decided to use precise scientific instruments, or parts of them. Using strong geometric shapes and forms to contrast with the organic elements’ endless curves and twists. After much experimentation digitally and with analogue media, the two opposing elements were montaged together.




Cycles exist within everything. We are torn apart and fused together again alongside every atom in existence. We experience a static universe, a never-ending moment of deceptive, inexplicable solitude. However, just as a cloud secretes water only to reform into itself once more, the universe (and everything contained therein) is in a constant state of cyclic replication. The necessity of harmonious addition and subtraction is the subject matter of this footage of footage (of footage). There is not a start, end, or way out: only a persistent evolution of matter. We were stardust, we are stardust, we will be stardust.





Daniel: Hi all! I’ve got an interesting imaging technique that’s looking pretty cool...

looking for an excuse to get back in there. What kind of story did you want to tell?

exposures to make solid black areas that could be fun to play around with too?

Recently I’ve been looking into making caustics records, which are essentially what you get if you put a piece of photographic paper at the bottom of a tank of water and expose the paper. This creates the sort of pattern that you might see on the bottom of a swimming pool and I think it’s a really interesting procedure to capture something you wouldn’t normally be able to study, plus it looks cool.

D: Liz! I’m open to suggestions really, any ideas?


E: Yeah a few... but not sure if it could actually work. Was thinking about using puppets/objects in the water to make images on the light sensitive paper, and then illustrating over the top...? (Initial thought anyway) Could also try and manipulate the water/liquid to make other images... like add oil etc. I think we need a play around before anything. I don’t have a story in mind, but we might not need one, or might find one along the way.

D: Hey these images are looking really great! There’s some brilliant effects coming out of all the different stencils we’ve tried so far. I think we’re really getting the hang of how to use this technique now.

I was thinking it’d be interesting to create a cut out (shadow puppet-esque) animation. I’m happy to do everything technical and photographic, but I need illustrators/animators/’story tellers’ to create something and most likely someone to handle sound. Elizabeth: Very nice. I might want to get involved in this. I’m a second year illustrator, and this sounds really interesting. I have a year of experience in the darkroom and have been


D: Great, where shall we go from here? E: Well how about we try and manipulate the light with stencils? Just to see how it behaves when going through thin lines, cross hatch, shapes and patterns? And maybe double exposures? And if we use mixed contact exposures with watery

E: I guess maybe we should focus on a particular theme that we want to explore? D: Yeah, I think my favourite images so far have been the ones we made with the foetus stencil, what do you think? E: Yeah, and the caustics also link nicely with the watery subject. Especially as everyone’s first encounter with water is in the womb, which is really interesting to explore. I might experiment a little more with pattern too, the paper-cutting is really enjoyable...

-----------------------------------E: There’s a strike on Thursday... How inconsiderate! Haha. That and a bank holiday!! Arrrr! D: Fiddling around online and working out how much it’d cost to set up a darkroom in my bathroom, would mean we could work nights and not have to worry about getting darkroom time, hmmmm. Gonna head down to Calumet in Euston this afternoon and see if it’s feasible. ----------------------D: Lots of successful failures last night, was tinkering till about 4! Was struggling to get the right exposure, have switched to a new flash, and chemicals all working well, just need to find a very thin diffuser to spread the light so we get even illumination, was using newspaper last night but that affects exposure too much so currently trying to work out what else I can use.


E: How about toilet paper? You won’t be seeing the light of day for some time now! Did you get a red light as well? D: No, did I not tell you!? I was sneaky and blocked out my window with red acetate, 2 birds 1 stone! When do you want to come and play? E: Can do tomorrow, I’ve spent all day making stencils. What’s the plan with window suggestion of Heather’s?

D: I think you’re right, sounds like a plan!


D: Well I think that all went rather well indeed! It was a lovely excuse to develop the caustics pattern capture system and it was great to have you to work with, loved your creative input and your different viewpoint.

E: Well Danny, I want to see how these more complicated stencils work with the caustics, and perhaps play around with double exposures? I’ve made a new text stencil which would be ideal for the double exposure test.

E: We could always develop our other ideas further! There’s so much we could do with them. It was brilliant collaborating with you, so thank you for letting me into your project! I’ve learnt so much about imaging science and your input into the creative side has been so helpful too!

E: Sounds good, and I think the caustics on their own would be the most striking on the windows, it leads in well to the pieces inside too!

D: Just calculated we’re gonna have to make a file that’s 7000 pixels wide to cover the middle window. Challenge accepted. I shall see you tomorrow!

D: So what are our plans for this exhibition then Elizabeth!?


D: OK cool I think the text ones we’ve done so far work really well so let’s see how that goes. I think Heather’s idea for the windows is too good to miss. I’d really like to try and make that happen. So patterned windows and maybe 2 graphicsy A2 prints?





There is a pattern of natural fractals that would make a tree, and make a mountain. In the prints, the pattern is a system of pixels to make an image. Inspired by examining pixels microscopically, I found some old postcards that blown up are of four dots in CMYK, a base pattern that gives the information for the picture. From these cards were cropped sections of horizon, from which to draw a parallel back to the fractal. If a man were to make a step toward the horizon, he would see another, and would not be closer to it.





FRACTALS, PATTERNS AND GENERAL ITERATION It is difficult to know exactly where to start the story. With the fractals I was thinking about the influence of Broad Vision or holidays in the wilderness. At some point I have to get round to talking about these objects I made. It seems like years have passed since I made this white sculpture. It has been a busy few months. The white sculpture was built through an iterating action, increasing the size of the pieces by a third each time (beginning with the width of the wood). I had an idea to drag the dripping rag of paint through the holes. Once for the bottom layer, three times for the next, nine for the next, and so on. One of the important parts for me is this ‘and so on’ part, the possibility of being infinitely scalable. I just had a flashback to sitting in a Broad Vision session next to Anand, who was zooming infinitely into a Mandelbrot set. Shapes and gradients generated by the speed at which the numbers fly off to infinity or regress to zero. You have to compute it to know which way they will go. Sometimes art is a


little like that, you have to make an object to see what it does – too many factors to imagine. I definitely couldn’t articulate that when I was sat spellbound looking over Anand’s shoulder. Broad Vision teaches you things in funny ways. After that session I lived in the woods in Poland for a few weeks. These photos document another project. The piece itself is still there. I am glad it stayed. I collected many chopped sections of wood, drilled holes and threaded them with dye so it dribbled down, once on each side for the small ones, three times on each side for the larger ones (the larger ones are three times the size of the smaller ones). Then I climbed up some trees and tied the logs between the high trunks. All in all I think the piece mostly fails. It looks a little like something a bored cub scout would make.

almost pointlessly. Spending an hour or so working on these fragments rescues them from obscurity, an anonymous death. It reminded me of rescuing these little bits of time, focusing and enjoying making a single moment last. It’s a little bit quaint but it makes me smile somewhere inside when I see them in London, thinking about moments burnt up in the fire. And the grand conclusion? Perhaps nothing. Either way there’s some wood hanging in the air in Poland. Maybe that piece is growing on me.

Another day I was chopping wood with an axe, I was thinking about how things are different. Time is pretty weird on holiday in the woods, I found myself enjoying making tea or clearing the table. This piece is called ‘Wood for the Fire’. It reminds me of spending time dying sections of wood (on the shelf),




RECREATING PHOTOS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Looking at some of the photos at the session we had at the Cavendish Campus under the microscope, I couldn’t help noticing the colourful patterns created by the pixels of the magnified printing ink. The combination of several yellow, cyan, magenta and black colour dots reminded me of abstract impressionism.

background of each one, and tried to represent each part of the photos as it would appear under the microscope. I took photos of each part of my chosen photos and I then reinvented the photographs by placing the correct colour pixels in the corresponding places. My aim through this project is to show moments of the real world captured by the camera and interpreted as pixelated printing ink. It’s a different way of seeing the world. The result is several colourful and playful images.

I thought I could recreate some of those patterns by using photos from the Broad Vision team. The photos show certain activities that we made throughout the Broad Vision project 2012, capturing moments of people having conversations, brainstorming, being curious, etc. The environment of such photos gives me the opportunity to have a setting in which I can develop my project. The first step of the project was to examine a number of photos under the microscope and investigate the colour combinations and variations of the printing ink. Each part of the photo is a different part of my composition; a chair, the wall, a person’s figure etc. I picked photos based on the colours and the





Science has always interested me since joining Broad Vision. This year, the project offered us sub-groups to choose from, and I chose Fractals and Patterns; I have also taken on the role as a student facilitator, where I was helping the sub-groups find their feet, as the majority of the students were new to the project. I began with research into fractals and watched a BBC documentary on The Secret Life of Chaos, which explores the mathematical and biological reasons for our existence. It resulted in a simple mathematical equation that reverses on itself, which creates this fractal pattern. I also came across some beautiful sea urchins such as sand dollars, starfish and the sputnik urchin (which was my main inspiration for the pattern designs in this project).

I wanted to make. Limpets and sea urchins were my main inspiration of the shape. I also wanted to show the infinite growth in the patterns as well as the shape of each piece, which is shown in the ‘inspired by Romanasco Broccoli’ pieces. Each final piece explores a different type of fractal. The pattern designs I came up with show the simplicity in the shapes, but the complexity and detail in each repeated pattern. My aim in this project was to show patterns in nature and represent them in a three-dimensional form. I also want to create a surreal setting for each piece by knocking a square into the wall so the canvas looks like it is emerging from the wall instead of just being hung up.

I have produced ten final pieces representing fractal patterns and textures in sea corals and urchins. The inspiration I had from looking at cells down the microscope was heightened when we visited UCL to look at the electron microscopes. This gave me the idea of looking inside of a fractal pattern as the microscopes look inside cells. I have taken an interest in growth in more than one approach; I started researching the sculptures of Anish Kapoor to have an idea of the shapes






This project was originally intended to look at plant cells under the microscope, but became about the use of plants as decoration indoors. Looking at the way that plants move towards the light wherever they are placed, it occurred to me that this necessity for light was reflected in the medium of photography. This set of photographs was inspired by the natural sciences as well as the tradition of still life within art, and the most influential parts of my research included Attenborough’s The Private Life of Plants, and a visit to the Art of Arrangement exhibition at The Holburne Museum. I thought about the use of flowers and plants in still life arrangements almost as an attempt to tame nature, similar to the way in which a painting or photograph can make life appear still.





BUTTERFLIES I began exploring the pattern of movement of insect wings, finding during my research that scientists have created synthetic butterflies in order to capture and record their flight pattern. I was interested in how butterflies take flight as well as their wing pattern being attractive. I thought about what amount of force was needed in order for something bigger to fly. The biggest things I thought of were hurricanes. Storm chasers are people who use heat sensitive technology to record weather patterns and decipher where storms are going to occur. My final image is a comparison of how much hidden force there is in getting objects and animals to take flight. The butterfly might be a small creature, but for its size a lot of strength is needed in order to fly. The images of hurricanes in the butterfly’s wings are of tornadoes and storm chasers, brightly coloured to reflect the kind of technology used to pick up future storms. I have tried to build a narrative and sequence of similarities between children chasing butterflies and storm chasers chasing natural disasters.





For this piece I decided to look at non-Newtonian fluids. A non-Newtonian fluid is a substance that, in its normal state, has all the properties of a fluid, yet when subjected to stresses forms solid objects. This is due to the high anti-shear rates of the constituent parts. What this means is that when in its normal state it will act like any other liquid – anything that rests on its surface will sink – but if you try and force an item to sink, it will resist. The harder you hit it, the stronger it becomes! There are many uses in the real world for substances with these properties, including body armour and speed bumps and even filling in potholes. Often most people prefer to play with it though. If you put some in a speaker and pass low frequency sound through it, the fluid will dance and grow as the bonds vibrate, only for it to over-reach itself and fall back down. With this series I looked to create order from chaos and present a series of photographs that each viewer could draw their own patterns and shapes in – the use of physics as a medium for cloud watching.






MOULD & MICROSCOPY I felt inspired by mould and microscopy but, as an illustrator, unconsciously focused on shapes and colours rather than scientific aspects in my project, basing it on the notions of representation and metamorphosis. The four collages are an attempt to translate complex microscopic images of patterns formed by different moulds into a simple language of limited colours and geometric shapes. The snails and bears made from bread, soft cheese and peppercorns can be seen as living mini sculptures that are constantly in the state of transformation. The idea behind these was to see the interaction between mould and organic matter. Over the period of three weeks, the bears managed to grow thick mould furs, while for the snails, those were mostly their shells that got covered in mould, creating contrast with the bodies. It was fascinating to see these little creatures change with time, relying solely on chance to create unique mould patterns and colour combinations.








Little Creatures grabbed me straight away as I really love insects and bugs, so choosing any other title would have been absurd for me. Through this project and the joining disciplines, the idea of microscopy was introduced to me as a way of really exploring the idea of little creatures and still life using bugs and insects at the same time. Merging science and art together (both big passions for me) never really seemed like an option for me, so being able to capture images such as these and drawing them out in different mediums has been a perfect merger. Broad Vision introduced me to a whole new way of seeing photography and using microscopy as an art form. Being able to capture insect legs and wings through a microscope while still being able to make them beautiful isn’t something I was entirely sure would work but I’m very happy with the results. Making something beautiful which wouldn’t normally be considered attractive is always an aim with my work, and with this project I’ve been able to try something new, which I think may become a large part of my life.

From one of the early Broad Vision sessions I found myself thinking about the work that I could produce by incorporating areas of the different disciplines that were working together. I chose to be a part of Little Creatures, as I felt that the two words could be explored in a variety of different ways, and I was also really keen to take a look down the microscopes to see these little creatures. For my final piece I wanted to include both art and science, so I decided to use an image of an organism that had been taken down the microscope, and also combine it with psychology. I asked people for their thoughts and words that they related to the image/subject, which I then used to create my piece. I found working with the different disciplines really interesting, as from just talking to others and attending the practical sessions led by them, I was able to get an insight in to how the different disciplines work and also the work that they produce. Broad Vision was a really fun and inspiring collaboration to be a part of.




So small, yet so beautiful. The fascinating microbial world is an unlimited source of inspiration. When I started studying biology, I discovered there was only one thing I did not like about it: the neat, clear and unshaded lab drawings. To a scientist, the shade would simply represent something that you can’t see well enough. Most of the samples we observe are stained, so colour does not mean anything either. Then, I joined Broad Vision and I finally had the opportunity to look at micro-organisms and represent what they can be, not just what they are. Making new friends and sharing interesting workshops with other students facilitated the process enormously. I was surprised how different the way we see things could be, and I tried to emulate the artist’s way of thinking, finding beauty in the colours, shapes, lights... forgetting form and function for a minute. These paintings are the outcome of my experiment, a personal representation of the microscopic life observed under the microscope, including diatoms, fungi and bacteria. The search for their inner beauty. A colourful composition that mixes altered textures, shapes and proportions: My Broad Vision.




Oxygen (65%) and Hydrogen (10%)

Carbon (18%)

Nitrogen (3%)

Calcium (1.5%)

Phosphorus (1%)

Other elements of smaller amounts (1.5%)



WHAT WE ARE There are probably as many ways to describe and define human beings as there are people on earth. Various examples can be found in poetry, literature, art, etc. In the context of natural sciences, a human being can also be defined by its composition in different ways, such as molecular, material or cellular. I am intrigued by the fact that all human beings from the beginning, by mass, are made up of just a few basic elements. These can be found in space, on earth, or inside of you and me. But they have also been turned into branded, packaged commodities, traded for currency by corporations on the global market. I have selected some examples of products, containing these human elements, as an interpretation of what we are made of and as a commentary on, or envisagement of the commercialisation of basic elements. Initially, I was aiming to compare how an artistic, subjective approach would differ from a scientific, objective way of visualising concepts. I had various ideas about what to compare, including provisions, feelings and language.


The idea for this project came from seeing a BBC programme called The Secret Life of Chaos. It explained how the human body is made up of just a few ‘embarrassingly common’ elements, eg water and carbon – things that can be bought for just a few pounds. I found this extremely fascinating; simple and mind blowing at the same time. In an age of capitalism, it is interesting to see how these basic elements, found in the universe as well as in the human body, are commercialised and sold in stores. This made me reflect on issues about ownership of natural resources and the relationship and entanglement between branding, products and people. Being part of the Broad Vision project has had a large impact on how I thought about producing these images. Unlike being surrounded by other photography students, I was suddenly a part of a diverse group of science and art students. Situated in this context, I carefully considered how I as a photographer could contribute to the project in the most interesting way. By producing photographs inspired by ‘Straight Photography’, ‘New Objectivity’ and advertising, I ended up working closely to photography’s own key properties – focused and well-lit reproductions of everyday objects.


Please use the colour swatch provided to compare the colours in the centre of the pupil.



I took inspiration from the work of Joseph Albers and his book Interaction of Colour which looks at ways of using colour from a scientific angle as opposed to traditional colour theory used previously in art and design. I experimented with colours to pose questions about our perception of how we see. The colours in the centre of the pupil in each illustration are the same, but to any normal human eye the colours on the page appear as distinct. To create the image I studied scientific imagery of the eye and brain scans, including electron microscopy images of rods and cones inspired by an induction at UCL.





Studying Illustration as a discipline and wanting to become an art therapist, I am currently learning and exploring new information. Art therapy is a practice in which a specialist teaches a patient how to express their feelings and emotions on paper as they cannot do so verbally. Broad Vision enabled me to find out more about science and psychology. My main inspiration for this piece is human colour perception. It varies depending on culture, nationality and beliefs. I have conducted a survey in which I asked people to write out five sentences using five emotions: happy, sad, angry, shy and scared. Then they were asked to colour code each word in the sentence so that I could study how the results vary based on age, sex and nationality. Additionally I have read that art therapy practice space should be very basic in order to be able to adjust to the individual needs of every patient. If a patient has a white wall in front of them, they ‘project’ their thoughts onto it and then transfer onto the paper. This is the main concept of my installation.





SENSE AND EFFECTOR CIRCUIT Science is in and around us and is perpetually in a dynamic state. The human body must work in a harmonious, patterned way to execute desired commands so that we are capable of responding to the world of stimuli around us. Since the dawn of time, people have been looking into the components of the human body, analysing, dissecting and most importantly recording what they saw. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) drew different forms of human physiology but perhaps is most famous for his ‘vitruvian man’ and surgical anatomy sketches involving dissections. Illustrations in medicine are an integral part of understanding anatomical structures and physiological processes. More importantly it has helped us understand how our internal environment changes to protect us from the outside world and our own body. The project has been a great learning experience as we were given the opportunity to gain insight into the way other disciplines work. Many of us appreciate great pieces of art, but rarely get the chance to learn first-hand how the job is done properly from accomplished and talented individuals.




THE INSIDE OUT What does ‘being human’ mean? What makes us unique? What makes us humans, not rats or monkeys? When challenged by these questions, I was surrounded by people from a diverse range of disciplines. My first instinct as a science student was to define us as the species that possesses 46 chromosomes. I thought it would be the most appropriate answer to that question. However, talking to other people from other disciplines enabled me to see beyond my scientific views. Humans are the only animals that eat for pleasure and not only for survival. We add flavours to our food, we transform it before we eat it. Indeed, humans are the only animals capable of performing a task using technological tools. Yes, only humans take pictures, only humans illustrate, only humans analyse evolution. All these ideas were thrown at me and made me reflect, and made me broaden my ways of seeing Homo sapiens. I have always loved medicine since the age of six (it was the moment I realised what a unique capacity medicine is!). Which other animal can analyse disease, diagnose, treat and recover from illness once treatment is given? That was it. I had the wish to explore further the human body, to analyse the processes of


diagnosis and treatment of infirmities. There I was in a room full of ideas with the desire to perform tasks unique to humans. I was not sure if my research would fit as part of the Broad Vision project. I had no idea about what interdisciplinary medicine could be. I started by looking at the methods used to diagnose disease. I came across a range of methods and all of them were nothing more than analysing images and adding them to the history and the clinical examination of the patient. The first thing that came to my mind was the photography session that took place on phase one of the project, where we had the opportunity to work with a large format camera and direct positive paper. I thought, what is an x-ray if not a picture taken by a different type of camera and producing a different type of image? My interest started to grow as I was looking at images of x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and histological samples under the microscope. I started to watch how students from the arts and photography disciplines looked at pictures. How much they could tell about a picture that I would initially find only ‘cute’. They could go even further, they could talk about patterns, feelings, époque, style, etc. Once my research started to grow I realised how

much those images, produced by science, could tell me. I could measure the size of the heart from a chest x-ray and find out if a patient had enlargement of the heart as a consequence of disease. I could tell if a patient had pneumonia just by looking at the picture of their lungs. I could determine if a patient suffered from scoliosis or not. Yes, I could analyse images. Just like the paintings, the x-rays ‘spoke’ to me through contrast of colours. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, in order to produce the image used for diagnosis, machines used in health care settings send beams of x-rays through the body. A special film, or a computer, is used to record the images that are created. Structures that are dense, such as bone and metals, will block most of the rays and will appear white. In contrast, structures containing air, such as the lungs, will appear dark, and muscle, fluid and fat will appear as shades of grey. The facts presented by the research started to answer a lot of questions, and create further questions. I started to narrow my research to make it more specific, deciding to focus on chest x-rays and to analyse the density of the organs seen on them. The lungs were my main subject, as they are relatively large structures and appeared to have such a low density.

I decided to dissect the trachea, lungs, liver, heart and oesophagus of a pig. The simple comparison between the weights of these organs could easily show their differences in density. The lungs, although relatively large were so light. This is explained by the fact that it is the site of gas exchange of the body. Further analysis was made under the microscope, when you can actually see the hollow cavities (alveoli) – again explaining its low weight. A tube was used to blow air into the lungs that expanded incredibly, increasing the area and lowering the density – one of the reasons why patients are asked to take a deep breath when having an x-ray performed – so that lungs can be seen accurately. Many other outcomes came from the project: the exchange of knowledge with researchers from other disciplines enhanced my curiosity and the need to explore further what was actually my specialty. I became more specialised in my own discipline, through the knowledge gained from disciplines initially so different from mine.




FOOD THE WAY WE LIKE IT FOOD FOR FUN FOOD FOR PLEASURE The images were inspired by things that set humans apart from other species: the way humans manipulate things for their own needs, for pleasure or fun. In food is found these three elements: humans eat not only to survive, but unlike other species humans will modify its taste and/or texture to make it more palatable; humans will make cakes, ice-creams, sweets and pop drinks in general for sheer fun and pleasure. Using chemistry and physical laws humans will bake, boil, smoke, fry, freeze and make use of biological systems. Some food stuffs use microbial fermentation to obtain their specific taste; others will use microbial activity for conservation. From cakes to breads, salamis, cheeses, jams and alcoholic beverages, all pure science! The pictures were taken using a 50x magnification light microscope. Here can be seen hot chocolate powder, a tea bag, fizzy drink and a selection of mugs adorned with pictures of Aero chocolate orange flavour, Wotsits, Smarties and fizzy drink bubbles.










In this final section a number of Broad Vision researchers (staff and students) reflect on the project: its successes, its partial successes, its challenges, and its frustrations. The different perspectives are voiced by students and academic staff working on the project and by the project’s educational researcher, Dr Silke Lange, who contextualises Broad Vision within current educational trends. From the student body, Ramon de Assis Figueiredo describes how he shared his knowledge of anatomy with a gallery audience; Frida Petersson talks about her expectations and experiences of collaborative working; and Simon Westgate explores the nature of interdisciplinarity within his own subject of photography and within the project at large. From the academic staff, Imaging Science lecturer John Smith discusses his role as a tutor on the project while Heather Barnett, as project leader, closes by looking at the project’s underlying principles and the ambitions for its future evolution. These stories and experiences offer insights into specific events, disciplinary perspectives, and contextual frameworks. This series of snapshots provides a case study for one model of interdisciplinary learning and research, whether viewed as an experiment in learning and teaching, as a professional development programme for undergraduates, as an art/science enthusiasts’ club, or as a chaotic and creative space in which unforeseen innovations can emerge.





When we work in a creative field it is very easy to become complacent about the luxuries we are afforded, none more so than when in education. While working towards a degree in a creative art, we are encouraged to find a voice that is our own; it is accepted that although we may be set the same brief, the results will vary from student to student. We are also given the freedom to work with a number of contemporaries from outside of our immediate fields, such as fashion, illustration, photography and painting. None stay too far apart, and many crossover with regularity. This could be said to be one of the reasons some feel that the world of science and art make for uneasy bedfellows: scientists (it is assumed) work in absolutes, popular culture perception is that they either conduct successful experiments or they do not, with no room for the conceptual fantasies of the creative. At the other end of the scale artists are seen as playful and emotionally driven, with the ability to proclaim works as a full success, even if they did not fulfil their original aims.

When I took part in this project, my main interest was to contribute to the deconstruction of borders between disciplines. From the launch of the project, at the grouping session, I already found myself sitting next to psychology and biology students, coming from different parts of the world, brainstorming around the topic of Being Human. The discussions and associations never seemed to end and my expectations about deconstructing borders were at once met.

However, for those who work in the respective disciplines it is clear that the divide is not as concrete as the stereotypes would have us believe. Physics thrives upon the conceptual in creating reason from the seemingly inexplicable; photography uses a scientific tool for an eye, one that captures all presented to it with a process founded on chemistry; literature introduces complex science into popular culture and crosses the divide between science and art with a comparative ease. Painters use dyes, stains and concoctions to create canvases, as medical imagers colour specimens and slides. Yet it is only when the groups meet and work together that the similarities and shared skills become truly apparent. Broad Vision is a project that brings freedom to all involved, the emphasis on creating something that is unique to higher education.

When starting to research a new photography project or a piece of writing I will often use keywords I feel tie in with the subject. Were someone to use this approach to look at Broad Vision, terms like ‘freedom’, ‘space’, and ‘experimentation’ would be my suggested starting point. It is testament to the architects behind the scenes that this project exists and works so well, and with the acceptance of this programme into the University’s curriculum it is starting to gain the recognition it deserves. It is through forward-thinking programmes such as this that higher education will find new ways to enhance the learning experience and create opportunities for students. Outputs such as the exhibition and this book have given us the chance to see our work presented to an audience we may not normally have access to, and to work with contemporaries in fields that we may not normally cross paths with during our time at university.

After that point things got more complicated and more interesting. Various choices of technologies, facilities, and areas were presented for us to use in our work. The formation of the group and possible collaborations started to shift and flow, people showed up for sessions and then they didn’t. Decisions had to be made and time was short. I ended up working alone with my project, but I still got the chance to bounce off ideas with others in the group. When looking back at this project, I am glad I joined, and I would like to encourage others to join if they ever have the chance to do something similar. Often, in a process or in life, one thing leads to another and most of the time it turns out to be something exciting. I believe that these kinds of cross-border collaborations are vital for academic purposes as well as for other contexts. In the long run, I think that this is an example of something that can make this world a little bit of a better place to be. FRIDA PETERSSON PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS BA HONOURS


1: Matthew Thompson (p67, The Anxiety of Photography, 2011. New York: Aspen Art Museum)




When I first heard the idea of running a live dissection at our exhibition at London Gallery West, I confess that I felt consumed by paradoxical feelings of fear and excitement. I feared that people would be squeamish and would not want to be involved with the dissection. I feared not being able to deliver it in a way that people would understand. Nevertheless, the idea of pioneering what could possibly be the first live dissection performed in a gallery in London, giving visitors to the exhibition a direct and visceral experience, really excited me. It also linked well to many themes in the exhibition about looking, examining, and experiencing biological phenomena. I am fascinated by the ways in which the human body works to maintain homeostasis and keep us healthy individuals. I knew that people might be interested to know a little more about themselves, based on the discussions that I had had during the other phases of the project with people from other disciplines; conversations that helped me to build the entire dissection. With that in mind, the process started to become enjoyable and easier for me. I realised that I was about to have a conversation about the human body with humans, to help them better understand some of the mechanisms and actions present within themselves. The subject for this anatomical discussion was a pig. Organising the dissection required a lot of work, from obtaining approval based on the Health and Safety guidelines to revising interesting facts about the organs that were to be dissected. It was an incredible experience and a lot of knowledge was gained. I had to take leadership of the procedure, liaise with others (working as a team), but also work on my own – developing skills that, up to that moment, I was not aware I had. This made me realise that the lines that divide my student life and my professional life had started to disappear. I was no longer a student sat in a classroom listening passively to what my lecturers had to say. That moment I felt the pleasure of


playing a more active role as a student. I was applying the knowledge gained during the past years of my studies and I was helping to build knowledge. And what a pleasure it gave me! The outcomes of the dissection were of extreme relevance – every person present took part in the procedure. There were photographers, illustrators, scientists, musicians, psychologists, parents and even children – all with curious eyes – discovering the reason behind events that happen inside each one of them. From the trachea to the lungs, oesophagus, liver and heart – all were described, questioned and analysed. My passion was delivered through each line I delivered; the lenses of photographers recording the event; the magic moment of mutual contributions towards a greater understanding of flesh and body. The feedback was brilliant; the excitement, priceless. The experience gained reinforced my knowledge of my own discipline and of myself. I believe that there should be more space within our academic curricula for such active ways of learning. Many have been proposed for ways of teaching. However, this is about finding ways of learning. RAMON DE ASSIS FIGUEIREDO HUMAN AND MEDICAL SCIENCE BSc HONOURS



everybody had something to teach and something to learn, at least as much as a set curriculum might have. I saw my role less as a lecturer and more as a facilitator. I listened in on students’ discussions; I observed the evolution of their collective mind maps; and I recorded the outcomes of their conversations (with a camera). During the various timetabled sessions where participants met in person, we tutors took a back seat. We were there for support, maybe to answer specific questions, or to provide some stimulus or direction if conversation was drying up or veering too far off topic… (off topic is good, but too far off topic is bad – reminds me of the old lady who walks her dog in Northwick Park: the dog has one of those extending leads and it always seems to be fully extended; the dog sees (and smells) more of the park that way. I wonder how much further the dog walks than she does? I wonder what pattern the two of them trace? Maybe we could do a small study with a GPS tracker and some aerial imagery; maybe not about her and her dog, maybe me and my bike, or something… hmm, Richard Long Leash… possibly an idea that can be linked to next year’s project?).


Descriptions of Broad Vision have included ‘chaos’ and ‘no taught curriculum’. Looking back on my experiences as a tutor on the project, I would argue that while things may have appeared chaotic at times, there was organisation within that chaos; while we may have appeared to make stuff up as we went along, we rarely did. We provided a structure to support the creative process, an environment where the limits were carefully considered, and experience and advice to nurture the

1: Students engaged in interdisciplinary exchange while tutor eavesdrops


development of projects. There’s more to a pad of blank paper and a bunch of coloured pens than meets the eye. With respect to the subject-specific material taught by tutors throughout the life of the project, the curriculum was responsive rather than generative, though I doubt such pedantry will shake the foundations of educational theory. The prior knowledge and experiences of participants were sufficiently diverse to ensure that

And, while in our back seats, the topic police engaged in our own gossip; ‘disciplinary exchange’, I believe the phrase is. The experiences of the sessions enabled me to make new connections between my subjects and those of other disciplines, and between topics that my (imaging science) students found novel and stimulating from other disciplines, and topics they study elsewhere within the Photography BSc courses. I could see how students applied knowledge from their courses to inform and progress developing ideas. Sometimes I witnessed mistakes the imaging science students made, misinforming others, and I would subtly step in and offer an alternative explanation or suggest – in time-honoured fashion – that ‘we could research the topic and discuss it next week’. And sometimes I saw or heard students from


other disciplines demonstrating a lack of understanding (understandably) of some imaging science thing that might have had significant impact on their immediate comprehension and future project success. I’m sure the other tutors had similar experiences. Although much of the conventional hierarchy between students and tutors was removed, tutors are tutors for a reason: we are (supposed to be) experts in our fields. My subject-specific expertise and my experiences and observations of the sessions allowed me to go away and review relevant lectures I had prepared over the years and, with a bit of editing, to prepare a lecture for a future session. I found the exercise rewarding, for many reasons. By responding to previous discussions I could be confident that the audience would be interested in the content. I could pepper my lecture with connections between various disciplines. I could avoid telling the audience things they knew already. I could relate the content directly to questions raised previously by individuals. By doing so I aimed to help keep the animals on their leashes and avoid the descent into chaos.

2: John photographing the results of one session for reflection, review and to inform the following sessions


later, online. I chose the term ‘meditative media’ to suggest that, in contrast to the quick pace of real time conversation, the online platform provided a different discursive environment. Some people need a change of place and time, their own space, to reflect and to think – and it is notable that online posts occurred at all times of the day and night. Some people find collaborative group discussions intimidating, while others thrive on them and may even dominate. The combination of physically meeting in person, backed up with the virtual environment online, proved to be yet another incidence of symbiosis in Broad Vision. 3

Another matter, at least partly related, was the use of various digital media and the online environment of the Broad Vision networking platform, the Ning site. Participants were encouraged to use the online environment to communicate outside the timetabled sessions, through forum discussions, posting images of work in progress, linking to web resources, listing upcoming events, etc. It was no surprise that photography students used digital cameras throughout the project, both in the production and the sharing of their work, showing pictures to others via the screens on their camera backs – it appears that everybody’s at it now that smart phones with large screens have become ubiquitous. Work would often appear after sessions online, maybe to illustrate developing ideas or to seek critical comments. I am still a believer that every student should not need the latest telecommunications device to fully participate in the learning community, and I found participants’ use of the ‘new media’ a revelation, in particular, in combination with old media of pencil, paper, or photochemicals. These insights were only achieved by observing student behaviour in real time during the sessions and then,

3: Using iPads to research


The two aspects I have discussed, the curriculum and the media, shared this important trait: the structure was provided from the outset but the use and content evolved with the project. Some prior notions have been reinforced by experiencing them first-hand, the group sessions and website providing the evidence. And I gained new insight, and am now converted to the way students use online environments. Prescribing particular uses of media may be futile and counter-productive: all students in higher education ought to be encouraged to be creative and, where new media is concerned, students can certainly be relied upon to employ the most useful tool for the job. Having witnessed the use of the Ning site I am more relaxed and reassured that the likes of Facebook can be at least as valuable as Blackboard [ed: a virtual learning environment used in universities]. Encouraging students to be active learners is beneficial to both students and tutors: tutors can concentrate on teaching, rather than lecturing, while all should find the exercise more stimulating and, ultimately, more rewarding.



4: Sharing research through mobile devices



INTRODUCTION For two years now, I have been the educational researcher for the Broad Vision interdisciplinary pedagogic research project. During this time I have had many opportunities to observe the interactions between participants where seeds of ideas were planted; research was shared; concepts developed; and products evolved. Spaces included a microscopy laboratory, an illustration studio, a photographic darkroom, conventional classrooms, a gallery and a virtual platform for social networking. There were times during the project when, had a stranger walked into one of these spaces, their first impression might have been that of chaos – defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘complete disorder and confusion’.i However, in my view, in the context of the Broad Vision project, chaos was a catalyst for student engagement and created innovative responses to learning spaces by students as well as staff. Over the next few pages, I hope to offer some insight into the learning processes of the project and demonstrate how I arrived at such a conclusion. DISORDER AND CONFUSION Traditionally, curriculum content and learning processes in higher education environments are pre-designed by academics and presented in a modular framework to students. The content is controlled, ordered, and predetermined, with the aim that students gain foreseeable skills and achieve predictable outcomes while engaging in the learning processes. At times, students can perceive this kind of pre-designed curriculum as a narrow set of intentions and activities imposed upon them, with little direct involvement in the process of consultation from their part. It may seem surprising that, despite ongoing debates and research into student engagement (Trowler and Trowler, 2010), students are rarely actively



encouraged to contribute to designing the curriculum. I would suggest that student engagement does not only concern the activities that are happening in the classroom, but also the development and design of these very activities. There are a number of positive accounts of initiatives that have taken a more democratic approach to curriculum design and thereby encouraged students to take ownership of their learning experience. As space is limited I will not expand on these here, but instead focus on the Broad Vision project as an example of such an initiative. Readers who are interested in further models may want to refer to, for example, the publications Staff-Student Partnerships in Higher Education (Little, 2011) and Dialogues in Art & Design: Promoting and Sharing Excellence (Clews, 2009). As the Broad Vision project is interdisciplinary in nature and based on student-led extracurricular art/science research and practice, the starting point for students’ learning experiences has been placed within these parameters; not fixed on a single subject, discipline, research method or outcome. In practice this has meant that a controlled, ordered and predictable curriculum has been replaced with a ‘space’ that allowed for a flexible approach to developing and creating the learning processes upon which the project could grow. Ronald Barnett and Kelly Coate (2005) proposed a similar approach to curriculum design: Curriculum design should be understood as the imaginative design of spaces as such, spaces that are likely to generate new energies amongst students and inspire them, and so prompt their triple engagement – in knowing, acting and being. (p.3, emphasis in original) Barnett and Coate’s concept of the ‘triple engagement – knowing, acting, being’ (ibid) is subtly reflected in

here in that the knowledge students gained from the disciplinary exchange phase was used to ‘act’ and ‘react’ during phase two, and through this process new responses were generated and created). Some aspects of the research process and its outcomes were presented in London Gallery West during the final phase audience engagement. The exhibition allowed students to experience a different form of ‘being’, whether by showing scientific experiments in an art gallery or by presenting work to the wider public for the first time. (Image 2). 1

the structure of the learning processes of Broad Vision which are described in three phases. The phases are ‘disciplinary exchange, interdisciplinary research and audience engagement’ (Barnett and Smith, 2011). During the disciplinary exchange phase, students learnt about each other’s field of study, and gained some understanding of approaches, languages and methodologies used in the other disciplines (exchange of knowledge through sharing of existing knowledge in their field). This was achieved by students designing taster sessions, such as workshops and experiments, within each discipline in order to engage students and staff from other disciplines (Image 1). In the second phase small groups were formed, based upon students’ responses to Images from Scienceii and their own research interests. Through creative face-to-face conversations, and the use of an online forum, the following research themes emerged: Trick of the Light, Catching Time, Fractals and Patterns, Hidden Forces, Little Creatures, and Being Human (see Section 3: Response). The research conducted by each group developed into creative ideas, enhanced by the interdisciplinary approach (there is an overlap

When the structure of Broad Vision is described as above, one might wonder why anybody would perceive the project as chaotic. Based on my own observations, I would suggest that the notion of chaos is based on the constant possibility for change that underpinned the project. Project outcomes were not specified and responses to each other’s research and actions were left to chance, depending on individual participants’ contributions to the project. In this way, the element of uncertainty remained and ideas had the potential to develop in a number of ways, at any given time. START IN THE MIDDLE The way in which students in the Broad Vision project took centre stage in the learning process resembles an arts education model, especially the investigative process in which students engage when developing their final major projects. In my own subject, photographic arts, for example, students’ research during their final project is predominantly practice based, informed by related theories, and often focusing on projects of personal experience, practice and motivation. In this student-centred approach to learning, students’ ideas are the starting point from which they develop creative bodies of work. Experimentation and exploration of the

ii The title of the exhibition that acted as an initial inspiration for students’ research 1: Photographic arts student teaching a pharmacology student how to use a large format camera in the studio


chosen medium and material employed are key to the investigative process, yet the importance of interaction and dialogue with peers is not to be undervalued. Small group tutorials (up to six/seven students) are common practice in arts education. In this ‘community of practice’ (Wenger, 1998), where students can develop their research and practice collaboratively – through asking questions, analysing and justifying their actions, and by giving and receiving constructive criticism – ideas have the potential to develop in unexpected directions. Students’ contributions in such meetings may be experiential, factual, emotional or personal in nature, adding multiple dimensions to the knowledge gained and shared with each other. This range of knowledge may assist students in developing different aspects of their research and practice, nurturing their learning and ideas, thus enabling them to acquire further understanding relevant to their field of study. The learning experience of students participating in the Broad Vision project has been similar to the notion of a community of practice as described above. But, there has been a key difference: students participating in the project came from a number of disciplines as opposed to a single-subject course. The diversity of disciplines encountered by each student enhanced their learning experience on a professional as well as a social level, mainly through collaborative learning based on dialogue. Students have been introduced to principles, habits and languages of, to them, unfamiliar disciplines while discovering similarities and differences between themselves and others. Perhaps the term ‘communities of discovery’ (Coffield and Williamson, 2011) is better suited to describe the way in which students’ learning on the project was encouraged, collaborations grew and ideas developed organically. Students took on the role of researcher for their own project work, yet they also facilitated the development of projects led by peers from other disciplines, through sharing their own specialisms.

2: Visitor to the Inspired by… exhibition of student work in London Gallery West


conventional classroom. The layout of the seats and/ or tables often carries preconceptions of how staff and students are supposed to interact in these spaces. During Broad Vision, however, the laboratory had been transformed into a space in which collaborative working methods, based on common interest, curiosity and dialogue, could be explored and new discussions and ways of working were engendered by experiencing one’s own discipline through working with others. COMMUNITIES OF DISCOVERY 2

Students took it upon themselves to question each other’s thinking and opened each other’s minds through working in collaboration. They gained inspiration from how the ‘other’ was approaching an idea, or a problem, and they researched collectively, resulting in more expansive outcomes. Work produced by an imaging science student and an illustration student may provide a good example here to demonstrate how the language and working principles of one discipline influenced and developed that of another, resulting in a multilayered body of work (Image 3). Both students were part of the group Fractals and Patterns and the collaboration evolved gradually through a sequence of developments. The imaging science student began his explorations and experiments with water patterns (caustics). Having reached a stage where he felt he had perfected the idea technically, he realised that the project had greater potential if he could collaborate with a student with artistic ideas. He posted his images on the online network site used to support the interactions between participants of the project. While there were a number of responses to his initial post, it was an illustration student who got most excited about his experiments and


saw the opportunity for a creative collaboration. They built a darkroom in his bathroom and worked together to explore the possibilities of working with stencils, text and image – experiments that the science student would not have tried working on his own. In addition to their roles as researchers and facilitators, they had now also become co-producers, of new knowledge and artifacts that grew out of their collective explorations and experiments (see pages 74 – 77). This example of how collaboration can be initiated and developed, through the use of direct face-toface interaction and a virtual learning environment, emphasises the importance of imaginative uses of space in facilitating learning processes. The physical learning spaces used by staff and students in the Broad Vision project also had a significant impact on the development of the curriculum, the research and its outcomes. As confirmed by my observation of a session in the microscopy laboratory, for example, working in this distinct space with people from different disciplines encouraged a physical engagement with the ideas and materials in ways that could not possibly happen in a

In their recent publication From Exam Factories to Communities of Discovery (2011) Frank Coffield and Bill Williamson propose ‘communities of discovery’ as an alternative democratic model to the current systems of education in the UK. They argue for more ‘collaborative learning, based on dialogue, to release the social and creative resources of our educators, learners, institutions and communities’ (ibid, p.51). On a small scale, the Broad Vision project has been able to establish such a community of discovery. The interdisciplinary approach to working in this project could be described as a progressive way of learning for open-minded students and staff wanting to share and develop knowledge and practice. This type of learning reflects Vygotsky’s (1978) idea of ‘social constructivism’, whereby students have opportunities to develop and enhance their soft and transferable skills in areas such as collaboration, teamwork, and communication through interaction with each other. Furthermore, due to the democratic approach to the curriculum design and learning processes, the level of student engagement and ownership of the project increased, and with this the professional attitude adopted by students. The account given by one of the student researchers during his presentation at the Broad Vision symposium confirmed this, as he concluded his presentation by stating the

3: Water Caustics: Collaborative work by Daniel Garside (Imaging Science) and Elizabeth Cowley (Illustration)


numerous skills he has been able to develop while working on the project. His list included: working with people from other disciplines, researching collectively, preparing material for book publication, curating and installing exhibitions, and public speaking. Considering the nature of the Broad Vision project, this list may not be surprising to the reader; but the following story shared by one of the life science students may be. He attended an interview with the National Health Service and was asked, among other questions, to give an example of his experiences of working in a team. He described his participation in the Broad Vision project, how the interdisciplinary approach had enabled him to work with others and to understand the importance of working with people from other disciplines. Explaining his own discipline to novices had increased his confidence about his own knowledge and skills, and helped him to develop his communication skills. The interview had a successful outcome for the student, and he can now build on the experience gained in the ‘real world’. The curriculum of the Broad Vision project began with a structure in which neither staff nor students were able to fully envisage what the outcomes might be. This notion of unpredictability mirrors the society in which we are all participants. Our working lives have become increasingly changeable, and we are expected to approach our everyday tasks with a flexible and open mind. In my view, it is the role of education to enable students to develop the knowledge and skills to actively participate in such a world. As stated by Stephen Rowland in his book The Enquiring University (2006): In a society that has become increasingly unpredictable it is important that those who teach, as well as their students, acknowledge their inability

to predict the outcome of the search for knowledge, rather than pretend that learning can be reduced to the predictable. (p.26) The inability to predict the outcome of the search for knowledge can be exciting and stimulating as well as challenging and disorientating. During a conversation with one of the student researchers I learnt that there were times when students felt lost. He expressed that ‘being an art student, this was not a new experience for me, as research and experiments often lead into the unknown’ and continued: Getting used to feeling ‘ok about being lost’ is a skill in itself. Knowing which information is vital to your aspirations and goals, and which is not, to me seems crucial to making progress in the world outside of university. Students from the science-based disciplines, especially subjects in psychology and life sciences, were less familiar with teaching methods that offered limited instructions. Some of these students embraced the new experience of learning and saw it as a welcome alternative in their university education; others terminated their participation in the project and prioritised the coursework demands of their regular curriculum. Discussions with students and staff during structured focus groups confirmed that there is a general awareness of the disparity between the disciplines, in the number of students participating in the project for the whole duration and contributing to the public outcomes (such as internal and external presentations, gallery exhibitions and publications). Some students’ responses, to a questionnaire completed as part of the evaluation of the project, also expressed disappointment in not being

able to contribute as much as they had anticipated to the project. Reasons given include personal commitments, poor time management, or clashing schedules. Considering the overall success of the project and the enthusiasm expressed by most participants, it is crucial for the development of the Broad Vision community to carry out further research into potential ways of facilitating progressive learning methods within an educational institution, and supporting students from all disciplines involved. I began this text by commenting on the chaos that a visitor might experience when encountering Broad Vision for the first time. Perhaps, as with many things, this perception is a matter of perspective and position. Traditionally, higher education environments have been controlled by bureaucracy to ensure their processes and outcomes are predictable. The Broad Vision project and all of its participants have been trying to break this habit, sometimes through revolutionary approaches to curriculum design, and at other times simply by interchanging roles. As for myself, I shall continue to observe Broad Vision through the lens of an educational researcher, who is interested in change and contributing to shaping an educational landscape fit for the 21st century. DR SILKE LANGE DIRECTOR OF LEARNING AND TEACHING, SCHOOL OF MEDIA, ARTS & DESIGN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER ON BROAD VISION

REFERENCES Barnett, H. and Smith, J. R. A. (2011) Broad Vision: The Art & Science of Looking, London, University of Westminster. Barnett, R. & Coate, K. (2005). Engaging the Curriculum in Higher Education, Open University Press. Clews, D. (2009) Dialogues in Art & Design: Promoting and Sharing Excellence, Group for Learning in Art & Design (ADM-HEA/GLAD). Coffield, F. & Williamson, B. (2011). From Exam Factories to Communities of Discovery, London, Institute of Education, University of London. Rowland, S. (2006). The Enquiring University, Maidenhead/Berkshire, Open University Press. Trowler, V. and Trowler P. (2010) Student Engagement Evidence Summary, York, Higher Education Academy, documents/studentengagement/ StudentEngagementEvidenceSummary.pdf: accessed 8 August 2012. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society, Harvard University Press. Wenger E. (1998) Communities of Practice, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Parts of this essay have been published at:




This book has given student researchers working on Broad Vision an opportunity to share their work with a wider public audience. It has also encouraged reflection from all involved, on the processes, experiences and outcomes of the project. Collectively, two generations of students and lecturers have created the project and made it what it is – a community of enquiry and interdisciplinary practice. A number of those who have participated continue to collaborate and are committed to driving the project forward. Many students return year on year to further their interdisciplinary experience, some even after graduation. This level of ownership and investment in the project is what has enabled it to succeed. Some students, of course, could not grant adequate time to fully participate in what was an extra-curricula project, as exams and other commitments took priority. For others, the collaborative focus caused frustration, as they struggled to communicate and develop ideas across university campuses and conflicting timetables. And, for a few, the fluid and un-prescribed nature of the project caused the greatest challenge, as one student researcher commented: ‘Getting used to feeling ok about being lost is a skill in itself.” (quoted in Lange, see p134). Fortunately for the majority, the project provided a platform for students to define their own learning as researchers and as practitioners. For example, on describing the experience of performing an anatomical dissection to a public audience, science student Ramon de Assis Figueiredo commented: “That moment I felt the pleasure of playing a more active role as a student. I was applying the knowledge gained during the past years of my studies and I was helping to build knowledge.” (see p124). For this is the ultimate desired outcome for our students – recognition that they can contribute to the generation of knowledge and also, that they can build professional experience throughout university life.

From a teaching perspective some see their role “less as a lecturer and more as a facilitator”, as John R A Smith described: “I listened in on students’ discussions; I observed the evolution of their collective mind maps; and I recorded the outcomes... The experiences of the sessions enabled me to make new connections between my subjects and those of other disciplines, and between topics that my students found novel and stimulating from other disciplines.” (see p127). And, from the position of the project’s educational researcher, Silke Lange, the value of ‘differencing’ has been identified, as: “Students have been introduced to principles, habits and languages of, to them, unfamiliar disciplines while discovering similarities and differences between themselves and others.” (see p132). From a personal perspective, as an artist and a teacher, the project has enabled me to work with students and colleagues to create an interdisciplinary learning environment, which connects key principles from artistic and educational practice. These include material thinking, experiential learning, learning through teaching, staff/student partnership, and communities of practice – which, in combination, permit freedom of choice and direction. The Broad Vision project set out to provide a solid framework within which random connections could be made, where the tight grip of academic guidance could be loosened, and where students could discover their own areas of interest and their own modes of working. This framework – the supporting scaffold of the project – can be likened to systems of emergence as described by Steven Johnson in his book on the subject1, where he sets out four key principles to any emergent system, shared by ant colonies, cities, and the world wide web alike. These seemingly disparate super-structures share a number of properties fundamental to their existence: neighbour interactions, pattern recognition, feedback, and indirect control (ibid, p.22).

The Broad Vision ‘system’ was built upon a similar foundation – a feedback loop of interactions and comparisons, with all participants becoming ‘agents’ in the collective system. Rather than establishing a clearly defined learning contract whereby every outcome was set out in advance, the project established a set of simple rules for interaction and allowed for unexpected outcomes to emerge. The project’s success relied on the interests, expertise and curiosities of the students and staff in the room, showing that: “Relationships in these systems are mutual, you influence your neighbours, and your neighbours influence you. All emergent systems are built out of this kind of feedback, the twoway connections that foster high-level learning.” (ibid, p.120). It is this equation, of low-level rules leading to higher level learning, that the project set out to achieve.

extra-curricula model (though elements of this will remain for continuing students). The positive elements of this development are twofold. Firstly, it will provide time, space and structure within students’ timetables, a factor which prevented some from contributing fully previously. Secondly, it demonstrates that universities are opening up to educational models that transcend monodisciplinary structures, ones that challenge the flexibility of the bureaucratic and financial infrastructures within our universities. We want students to continue to take risks and step out of their disciplinary comfort zones, and have therefore defined the assessment protocols of the new module to focus on process and experimentation rather than final outputs. The freedom and fluidity should remain as Broad Vision becomes assimilated within the university system and continues to evolve. HEATHER BARNETT BROAD VISION PROJECT LEAD

As we move forward to the next academic year and a new generation of student researchers, we introduce a newly accredited Art/Science Collaboration module to the Broad Vision framework. The module will be assessed and will award credit for student participation and contribution, thereby moving away from an exclusively

1: Johnson, S. (2001). Emergence, Penguin Books, London.




Outputs to date from the Broad Vision project include exhibitions, presentations and publications. All outputs are co-authored, co-presented, or co-curated by staff and students working in partnership. Only key authors are listed here.

Collaborative chaos in the studio and the laboratory: promoting engagement via student-led extracurricular art/science research and practice RAISE CONFERENCE: Student Engagement as a shared agenda: people, places, practices. Southampton University, UK

Inspired by… Images from Science 10 – 12 August 2012 Margate Photo Fest (re-curated by Mell Fisher, Frida Petersson and Simon Westgate)

Lange, S & Dinsmore, J. Collaborative discovery across disciplinary divides: promoting interdisciplinary learning via student-led extracurricular art/science research and practice. Networks Issue 18, University of Brighton [online] networks/issue-18-july-2012/collaborative-discoveryacross-disciplinary-divides-promoting-interdisciplinarylearning-via-student-led-extracurricular-artscienceresearch-and-practice

22 May – 17 June 2012 London Gallery West (curated by Broad Vision staff and students)

Barnett, H. & Smith, J.R.A., Broad Vision: The Art & Science of Looking. In Focus, Royal Microscopical Society (Issue 24, Dec 2011)

Broad Vision: art/science research and learning Subtle Technologies Festival, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

The Art & Science of Looking 12 – 14 August 2011 Margate Photo Fest (re-curated by Ailish Sullivan)

Barnett, H. & Smith, J.R.A., [ed] (2011) with contributions from student and staff researchers. Broad Vision: The Art & Science of Looking. London, University of Westminster.



3 – 15 May 2011 London Gallery West (curated by Broad Vision staff and students) PUBLICATIONS Barnett, H & Lange, S., Fluid networks and emergent learning: an interdisciplinary case study. Mutamorphosis conference proceedings, CIANT, Prague (forthcoming) Barnett, H. & Smith, J.R.A., Broad Vision: the Art & Science of Looking. Interdisciplinary educational programme, STEAM Journal, Claremont Graduate University (forthcoming)


Dinsmore, J., The Unstable Ground of Low Hierarchies. Reflection Piece, STEAM Journal, Claremont Graduate University (forthcoming)

Gardner, M., Broad Vision: developing professional skills through interdisciplinary practice. The HEA Psychology Network Newsletter (Issue 60, June 2011) PRESENTATIONS 2012 Fluid networks and emergent learning: an interdisciplinary case study Mutamorphosis Conference, CIANT, Prague

Inspired by… Images from Science Learning In Changing Times, 11th Annual University of Westminster Learning & Teaching Symposium, UK Inspired by… Broad Vision Symposium, University of Westminster, UK

Broad Vision: A model for interdisciplinary learning, teaching and research Learning Futures, 10th Annual University of Westminster Learning & Teaching Symposium, UK Broad Vision: A model for interdisciplinary learning, teaching and research Redefining the Student Experience, University of Greenwich Learning & Teaching Conference, UK The Art & Science of Looking Broad Vision Symposium, University of Westminster, UK Interdisciplinary Practice and Professionalism Psychology Annual Research Forum, University of Westminster, UK



INSPIRED BY… IMAGES FROM SCIENCE Inspired by… Images from Science documents and discusses art/science research and interdisciplinary learning as seen through the eyes of a group of undergraduate students and university lecturers at the University of Westminster, UK. Part exhibition catalogue and part educational treatise, Inspired by… Images from Science defines the approaches taken to interdisciplinary learning through the 2012 Broad Vision project, shares the multiple outcomes, and reflects on the project from the diverse positions of participants and observers. Broad Vision is an art/science research and learning programme which brings together students and academics from diverse disciplines to engage in collaborative exchange and experimentation. Through interdisciplinary exploration students become teachers, researchers and producers as they engage in questions relating to biology and psychology, technology and creativity, art and science.

“Interdisciplinary research in the field of art and science embraces the potential to explore diverse approaches to understanding the nature of the world we live in and the development of ways to communicate this. In our endeavours to comprehend, we make connections between experiences, render ideas tangible, and conceive and test propositions and hypotheses in ways that enable others to broaden their vision and enhance their quality of life. This is a human endeavour that is served well by a creative correspondence between scientists and artists, a process of enquiry celebrated in this book.” Nathan Cohen Artist; Course Director, Art and Science MA, University of the Arts London

Co-authored by Broad Vision student and staff researchers, with a foreword by Robert Devcic. Edited by Heather Barnett. ISBN: 978-0-9550951-6-0

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