This year the third volume in the Findings on series, Findings on Light, was published. Time to get to know PARS and its founders Hester Aardse and Astrid Alben.
PARS brings together artists and scientists to share their vision on a variety of topics that are fundamental to people’s daily lives. PARS was founded by curator Hester Aardse and poet Astrid Alben. Together Aardse and Alben are responsible for the concept and the artistic direction of the organization. They believe that art and science are at the heart of who we are - creative and curious creatures. PARS invites artists and scientists, who shape the way we perceive the world, to share their most revealing, amusing, confusing and contradictory thoughts and research around particular topics. Their aim is to stimulate curiosity and to celebrate beauty in knowledge.
Based on the idea that creativity and curiosity are fundamental to both art and science, Findings on Light is the third volume in PARS’ Atlas of Creative Thinking, joining the series after Findings on Ice and Findings on Elasticity – all published by Lars Müller Publishers. A collection of fascinating and sometimes astonishing research, Findings on Light sheds light on one of the most common yet mysterious phenomena in our universe, which has captivated creative thinkers for millennia.
Moonlight in a Box – an experimental animation created by Eleni Kalorkoti in collaboration with Astrid Alben. This animation was screened at the Wellcome Collection in London in 2015 as part of Some Like Dark, an event curated by the PARS Foundation.
The contributors’ findings range from quirky, humorous and beautiful to mind-bogglingly complex and disturbing. “We stipulate only two formal requirements,” PARS says. “Each response, whether it be a note jotted down on a beer mat, a formula, a dialogue, an essay, poem, sketch, a piece of sculpture or a piece of string, has to be in the language of the author’s discipline and relate to the subject.” Consequently, the outcomes are as diverse as their authors and creators.
The first book of the series, Finding on Ice, demonstrates a variety of different perspectives and ideas by artists and scientists and functions as a visual and textual guide around ‘ice’. The second volume in the cross-disciplinary series, Findings on Elasticity, is centered on elasticity: The economist studies the elasticity of supply and demand of market forces, the architect calculates the elasticity of the steel structure of a building during an earthquake and the anthropologist studies the ﬂow of people returning to their homes in the wake of a natural disaster. PARS draws people out of their specialized niches to share their work with a wide readership.
Combining and interlocking art and science might not be obvious but both are essentially creative processes. “Artists and scientists ask the same questions. It’s the methodology of answering those questions that differs. Artists begin with an idea that is ultimately expressed in the form of music, images or words. Scientists begin with a hypothesis, then set out to test it,” Aardse and Alben state. PARS’ approach results in an incredible richness that stimulates curiosity and content that is inspiring, provocative as well as playful and sometimes unbelievably funny.
The publication Findings on Light was designed by Studio Joost Grootens. Grootens pays tribute to the various fields the different contributors work in, their approach as well as professional characteristics: “Because the contributions come from such different fields of expertise (from cognitive science and textile conservation to neurology and contemporary composing) it is important that each entry is designed to bring out its own specific graphic context. An article written by a theoretical physicist demands a graphic treatment that reflects the typology of scientific publishing, whereas the contribution of a poet should be immediately recognized and thus appreciated as a work of art.”