David Edwards on The Lab: Creativity and Culture

WED, DEC 1, 2010 (44:40)

David Edwards, Harvard engineering professor, looks at the future of scientific research and his new book, The Lab: Creativity and Culture.

Six months before opening Le Laboratoire in Paris, David Edwards visited Hans Ulrich Obrist, who had co-curated the famous exhibition "Laboratorium" that explored connections between art and science. "Famous, yes," said Hans, "which I find ironic since almost nobody saw it. You have to be careful getting too near contemporary science."

But this was precisely where David Edwards chose to be. His new book, The Lab, promotes surprising innovations in culture, industry and society by exploring new ideas in the arts and design at the frontiers of science. Edwards argues for a new kind of educational art lab based on a contemporary science lab model--the "artscience lab." With examples ranging from breathable chocolate to contemporary art installations that explore the neuroscience of fear, he demonstrates how students learn by translating ideas alongside experienced creators and exhibiting risky experimental processes in gallery settings. Idea translation, making the conception real, is in turn facilitated by a network of complementary labs whose missions range from education to industrial and humanitarian development.

A manifesto of a new innovation model driven by the arts, this is the first detailed description of an emerging cultural phenomenon in the United States and Europe where artists and scientists collaborate to produce intriguing cultural content and surprising innovations.

+ BIO: David A. Edwards

David Edwards is a Harvard professor and founder of Le Laboratoire, a new innovation space in downtown Paris, where artists and scientists perform collaborative experiments. The outcomes of these experiments are exhibited to the public in the form of contemporary art and design installations. Since its opening in October 2007, Le Laboratoire exhibitions have attracted international media attention, with exhibition themes ranging from contemporary art, to industrial design, to humanitarian advocacy.

The principal of Le Laboratoire as an artscience catalyst for innovation is described in David’s recent book, Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation, which draws on the experience of many contemporary innovators in Boston and internationally. Among these experiences are David’s own as founder of many for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, including The Cloud Foundation, a Boston-based foundation that oversees Cloud Place, a dynamic center for urban youth arts, and Medicine in Need, or MEND, a global health not-for-profit funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mend is based in Boston, Paris and Pretoria.

David has received numerous national and international awards for his work and lives in Boston and Paris with his wife Aurelie and three sons.

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