Making the invisible visible. How art opens up new paths in science communication

Citizen ScienceScience communicationPublic Science

Numbers, data, facts - that is the language of science. But "people are poor intuitive statisticians", as the Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist Michael Kahnemann noted.1 Scientific publications and long data tables are also not part of everyday life for many people. This makes it all the more important to provide access to research and insights into scientific processes through low-threshold offers.

Art meets science

Art opens up new possibilities here. Current research has shown, for example, that artistic formats help people to better understand abstract data, for example to establish an emotional connection to facts about climate change.This makes an often ideologically controversial topic more tangible and makes it easier to relate research findings to the reality of one's own life.

A Malawian-Scottish cooperation project uses theater to convey knowledge about the pathogens that cause sleeping sickness in peripheral regions.3 The low-threshold format in public places allowed participants to engage directly with the artists and researchers, describe their own experiences and have their questions about the disease answered competently.

There are also numerous examples in artistic citizen science projects of how art opens up new perspectives for science communication and cooperation between science and society. The potential for cooperation between science communication and art is therefore huge. 

Can art be a door opener?

But how can artistically presented science appeal to the general public when both fields have a reputation for being non-inclusive and difficult to access? How can those target groups in particular benefit that have not been reached, or have only been reached to a limited extent, with science communication to date? What examples of best practice already exist and what innovative formats are currently being developed? These and other questions will be discussed at the joint event organized by the OeAD's Public Science and Cultural Communication departments.

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1 Kahnemann, M. (2012): Thinking fast and slow. Siedler.

2 Wie kann man Klimadaten besser vermitteln? Mit Kunst!“. MDR. Article published July 11, 2023.

3A man dressed as a tsetse fly came to a soccer game. And he definitely had a goal“. NPR. Article published July 30, 2023.

6. June 2024 14:00 to 16:00 Online Export Event as iCal