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Unfiguring / Experiments in the Practice of Science and Art

In contemporary science, the scientific paper is a dominating force. Composed of a succession of “figures” scaled to the page, the paper is a scientific genre that imposes a linear, impersonal, and two-dimensional logic to how scientists conceptualize and communicate their research.

Artists, on the other hand, have a vast range of tools at their disposal to observe, document, and craft stories about the natural world.

Building on the entwined histories of science and art, Unfiguring will be an experimental space for those curious about the expansive realm of possibilities where the boundaries between the arts and sciences blur.

What would it look like for scientific research to take its form as a performance, sculpture, film, immersive projection experience, or literary manuscript? How can scientific communities recognize and attribute credit for such works?

Through exchange of ideas, practices, and experiences, this conference will allow scientists to envision how they could approach their work more expansively and all participants to gain a broader sense of possible futures for science. We will approach this step towards a deeper integration of the sciences and arts playfully and with humility.

Mahindra Humanities Center

Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference

Cambridge, MA | March 21–23, 2024

This conference is co-sponsored by the Department of the History of Science, the Department of Physics, the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, The Wyss Institute, Harvard Critical Media Practice, the Harvard Library, and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.



Unfiguring | March 21 - 23, 2024

Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University

FREE but REGISTRATION required | Full conference SCHEDULE

Art Exhibition

Georgie Friedman | Jack Madden | Lucy Liu | Dimitrios Moutafidis

Kirkland Gallery | Harvard Graduate School of Design

Friday, March 22 | Artist Talks & Exhibition Reception

  1. 5 pm | Artist Talks | Barker Center  [Conference registration required]

  2. 6 pm | Exhibit Reception | Kirkland Gallery| Free & no registration required

On View

  1. Georgie Friedman (she/her) | Selection of Work

  2. Jack Madden (he/him; Carl Sagan Institute) | Known Displeasures

  3. Lucy Liu (she/her; Harvard University) | Kirigami Quilt

  4. Dimitrios Moutafidis (he/him; MIT) | Selenographies:

  5. Texturality as Tactile Mediation for Transcalar Pedagogies


Conference: Barker Center, Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard

                    12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Gallery: Harvard Graduate School of Design's Kirkland Gallery

                    40 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138