day science/night science

One of the buildings where I’m based as part of the ISP thing is the NetShape Centre. Basically where a load of industry-focused research is done into trying to make components as close to their final shape first-time ’round without having to do any further finishing or processing. The thing is though, its front wall is almost entirely windows and it looks absolutley stunning at night:

NetShape at night

At night the building is illuminated… and deserted. But there’s still a sense that things are happening. This is probably partly because it’s stuffed full of all sorts of recognisably scientific and technological equipment, however, I think that the main contributing factors are all the pipes and wires around the place. Maybe this gives a sense of movement and of processes churning away.

You can feel it.


Right from the start I’d harboured a desire to use this space somehow, but it wasn’t until about 5 months into my time here that the perfect project materialised.

Actually, it’s a project that’s been incubating for 4 years…

Francois Jacob

When I first started the BA course I read a book on creativity by Margaret Boden.

Within this was a quote from the autobiography of a Nobel Prize winning molecular biologist:

Day science employs reasoning that meshes like gears… One admires its majestic arrangement as that of a da Vinci painting or a Bach fugue. One walks about it as in a French formal garden… Night science, on the other hand, wanders blindly. It hesitates, stumbles, falls back, sweats, wakes with a start. Doubting everything… It is a workshop of the possible…where thought proceeds along sensuous paths, tortuous streets, most often blind alleys.
François Jacob
The statue within: An Autobiography, New York, 1988, p296

I have carried these words around with me for a long time and they resonate on all sorts of levels.

The NetShape Centre provides the perfect setting to use these words beyond the obvious link to the day and night thing.

If I remember correctly, Boden’s book was looking at the similarities and contrasts between creativity as seen from an artistic viewpoint and creativity as seen from a scientific viewpoint. I can very much see both aspects of the quoted passage within my own work. Firstly within the context of a (percieved!) art/science dichotmy and later as different stages I regularly go through within my art practice.

Do the people within the building experience the same thing?

I like the way the use of these words here hint at the infallible(?) scientists just blundering along like the rest of us.

In addition to this, I now learn that Jacob conducted work on feedback witin enzymes. This links in nicely with the idea of responding to your environment and, by extension, the whole notion of residencies.

The words of Day Science and Night Science will be integrated with the architecture of the NetShape Centre.