The Environmentalist

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 311–317 | Cite as

Images of nature: collaboration at the intersection of nature, art and technology

  • Shannon C. McMullenEmail author
  • Fabian Winkler


This paper argues that interdisciplinary collaboration between the sciences, the arts/humanities and engineering will provide innovative responses to important changes in our natural environment. Specifically, it will introduce “Images of Nature”, a case study on creative collaboration and a multi-level research project at Purdue University, headed by Prof. Shannon McMullen and Prof. Fabian Winkler. By bringing together scientists, engineers and artists, “Images of Nature” aims to convey the significance of new understandings of nature in images and tangible artifacts (e.g., data visualization, functional devices, generative and kinetic installations) for the public. It is our hope that this project will be the starting point for a flexible network connecting science, engineering and the arts on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus to enrich STEM education and provide a local model for STE(A)M (STEM disciplines plus Art), which emphasizes creativity and innovation; critical thinking and problem solving; flexibility and adaptability; cross-disciplinary communication and collaboration in the context of our changing natural environment.


Art/science/engineering collaboration Natural environment Climate change Iconology Images Interdisciplinary exchange Artifacts Water wave sonification Soy plant Gardens STEM to STE(A)M initiative 


  1. Belting H (2005) Image, medium, body: a new approach to iconology. Crit Inq 31(2): 302–319, p 304Google Scholar
  2. Bredekamp H (2000) Theater der Natur und Kunst: Wunderkammern des Wissens; eine Ausstellung der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; 10. Dezember 2000 bis 4. März 2001. Henschel, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  3. Bull M, Gilroy P, Howes D, Kahn D (2006) Introducing sensory studies. Senses Soc 1(1):5–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dupré J (2006) The disunity of science, an interview with Paul Newall, Accessed 10/07/2009
  5. Grünbein D (2001) Art as science–science as art: start of a project, organized by Wissenschaft im Dialog gGmbH in collaboration with MD Berlin and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Accessed 10/24/2011
  6. Johnson C (2004) Top scientific visualization research problems. IEEE Comput Graph Appl July/August:13–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Klüver B (1994) Artists, engineers, and collaboration. In: Bender G, Druckrey T (eds) Culture on the brink. Bay Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  8. Kwon M (2004) One place after another: site-specific art and locational identity. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Levin K, Cashore B, Bernstein S, Auld G (2009) Playing it forward: path dependency, progressive incrementalism, and the “Super Wicked” problem of global climate change. IOP Conf Ser Earth Environ Sci 6:502002. doi: 10.1088/1755-1307/6/50/502002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Marx Leo (2000) The machine in the garden: technology and the pastoral ideal in America. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. McMullen S, Winkler F (2010) A conversation about collaboration. Media-N 06Google Scholar
  12. Mitchell WJT (2010) Image. In: Mitchell WJT, Hansen MBN (eds) Critical terms for media studies. Chicago University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p 42Google Scholar
  13. Rittel H, Webber M (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sci 4(2):155–169. doi: 10.1007/BF01405730 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schramm H, Schwarte L, Lazardzig J (eds) (2008) Instruments in art and science: on the architectonics of cultural boundaries in the 17th century. deGruyter, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  15. Strandh S (1979) The history of the machine. Dorset Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Turkle S (ed) (2007) Evocative objects: things we think with. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Electronic and Time-Based Art ProgramPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations