PERspective on Creativity and STE(A)M Educational fields

By Joana Mateus and Inês Azevedo.

This is a short art-based methodology for Casa da Imagem’s workshops. A useful reflection, within the development of the Perse Project: PERspective on Creativity and STE(A)M Educational fields, co-funded by the Erasmus+
Programme of the European Union.

First Part – Mediating visual experience. Through art-based exploration, Casa da Imagem workshops are always adaptive and mutable, because they are focused on the participants. They develop on the basis of certain principles:
involving ludic and exploratory arts-based techniques; accepting and integrating failing as a trigger for experience and autonomous action; enabling participants to experiment accessible and replicable artistic workshop practices (for example, learning how to prepare ecological Photography Developer Caffenol-C and make images with it); using and exploring both analogical and digital technologies.

Casa da Imagem workshops provide the opportunity to develop skills on three main literacies: visual, digital and legal literacy on human rights. This enables the building of knowledge and critical perspectives for today's social media and digital media users. Participation in international innovation projects in these areas, such as Perse (perse-method.org) allows Casa da Imagem to expand its capacity for social and cultural intervention. From small and local School projects like “You are a postcard” and “Out of the closet”, or the community exhibitions run by LATIS: art, technology and social inclusion laboratory, to biggest international projects, the aim of Casa da Imagem’s workshops is to empower participants to be creative and conscious agents in their contexts of action.

Casa da Imagem integrates its heritage – photographic archive and museum collection on image creation – in art-based activities experimentation, thus promoting dialogues with history and science by inciting the contact with
devices and documents from the past from present perspectives. Casa da Imagem’s Museum travels to places distant from the cultural centers of the big cities, spreading the opportunities to a more differentiated public and contributing to more democratic access to culture. In those actions, it values spending time together, practicing, telling stories, sharing thoughts.
In its own space, which was a printing industry in the city of Gaia, Casa da Imagem’s gallery exhibitions open a dialogue between the various perspectives of the history of images, contemporary art and visual culture.

Second Part – The way we see: intersections of art and science in Museum Casa das Imagens. Through its activities, Casa da Imagem analyses the process of creating another world: the world of images, the world of visual culture; that human-artificial world that today has expanded and gained its own
infinite territory on the Internet. It opens a dialogue between science and image creation: in physics, optic, psychology, chemistry; the formation of images particularly in the field of cinema-animation and photography; the use and interpretation we make of the images of visual culture. The dialogue with science starts from the contact with images made by artists and workshop participants in photographic handmade technics. Indeed, these are related to several devices and visual historical documents, like the images, cameras and optical toys from Teófilo Rego’s Photographic Archive, housed in the Museum Casa das Imagens, which comprise different objects and materials related to the inventions and illusions of image, in photography and cinema.

Science and technology can help us to explain how we see images, how we are influenced by images and how we use images to construct and communicate ideas. During the visits-workshops of the Museum Casa das Imagens, we heard stories about ancient scientists who explained and defined the way we see, but we also free space to relate to museum objects through a purely rambling and speculative thought. This allows creativity to reveal and engages past history to present days…

Third Part – Thinking a workshop from a scientific concept: a method. In the beginning of the process, we seek for the disciplinary definition of a scientific concept. Then, we release ourselves from these disciplinary ties and seek other senses, other meanings, other fields of relation; through the freedom to play with the meaning of things, an enormous field of possibilities opens up: it is an exercise in creativity. The “Double Diamond” design process model, created by British Design Council in 2004, illustrates well this interleaved process of diverging and converging ideas, alternating the discovery with the defining of thoughts, the developing with the delivering of results. This working process uses materials, practices and methods that do not belong to science, but to artistic technologies. Therefore, the scientific theme or concept enters another field of relations and meanings. By using artistic practices and techniques we explore the scientific concept also for its aesthetic quality.
Through imagination, we practice the gymnastics of creativity. Fundamentally, bringing science into a personal or collective discourse provokes an awareness of the relationship between things and a more complex but more integrated sense of life.
Closing the reflection, this a method proposal for the intersection of art and science, based on 10 years of development of Casa da Imagem’s workshops.
For the freedom and creativity it brings us, we will continue experimenting with it many other times.