AHA! festival 2014
”Science and art” is the typical motto of a polytechnic, with the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm as a Swedish example. Only too seldom do we have occasion to ask ourselves what the words are meant to imply.
The Royal Institute of Technology received its emblem in 1827. At that time, ”science” referred to theoretical knowledge, and ”art” to practical ability. Our understanding of the world around us on the one hand, our capacity to change it on the other – in both cases in a systematic or methodical fashion, and in both cases in broad generality. Today, we would rather speak of theory and practice, but the question is essentially the same: how do we go from thought to action, and how do we get back again?
But the meaning of the two words was soon to change. Today, ”science” no longer refers to systematic knowledge, but rather to a highly professionalised, specialised and often technically advanced activity intended for the production of empirically secure facts. Similarly, ”art” is no longer a methodical ability, but rather a complex and autonomous activity comparable to science: the creation of images, sounds, and other forms of sensuous experience with a most immediate effect. Forms that grab hold, shake up, leave us at a loss. Experiences that make us question ourselves and the world around us.
The relation between science and art has become more complex, but is just as important to attend to. Their meeting is still that of theory and practice, but also something more: a meeting of causal connections and meaningful coherences, of given conditions and unsuspected possibilities, of the order of things and our own place within it.
By bringing together science and art, architecture provides an ideal playing field for such a confrontation. This is why the Department of Architecture at the Chalmers University of Technology has initiated the AHA! Festival, October 21–23, 2014 that, during three days of lectures, workshops, conversations, exhibitions, concerts, performances, and mingles, will offer thought-provoking experiences, hands-on surprises, itinerant perspectives, and savoury ideas. In this way the festival welcomes students and researches at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg to turn the searchlight onto the relation between two different– but equally important – human activities.