Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Experimental Expertise: Glass at the Intersection of Art and Science
by Robbins, Amy S., Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2019, 326; 13861088
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is about experimentation and the relationship between innovation and the materiality of glass. The research began with a provocation from the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) and Corning Incorporated in Upstate New York, and these institutions’ attempts to bridge the artistic studio and the scientific lab through institutionally designed collaborations. I focus on two collaborative projects which bring together different forms of expertise and approaches to making: CMoG’s GlassLab design program and the Specialty Glass Residency, an art-science collaboration jointly administered by CMoG and Corning Incorporated. Both GlassLab and the Specialty Glass Residency rest on the conviction that new and significant possibilities can emerge from the interface of materials and differing expertise in an experimental environment.

Drawing on interviews, informal conversations, and empirical experiences of the material, I foreground glass as a material that is both acting and acted upon. I make an argument for recognizing a material agency in making, in this case, one rooted in the material’s amorphous, non-crystalline atomic structure. While stories of innovation often focus on the “creative individual” or on the ability of an institution to wield their expertise to solve a problem, I argue that new knowledge, experiences, and things are created not solely through expertise responding to commercial or instrumental exigencies, but can emerge through affective experiences of the material.

Additionally, I argue these Corning collaborative projects are motivated by more than economic innovation or public relations alone. These are projects that recognize both the strengths and limits of expertise, and that don’t find art and science as oppositional, but as having boundaries that are worth crossing in order to further push and question one’s own discipline and practices. This dissertation provides an ethnographic account of the various motivations involved at the intersection of two institutions united around a common material, where the influence between artists and scientists flows in both directions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smart, Pamela G.
Commitee: Holmes, Douglas R., Reno, Joshua O., McDonough, Tom
School: State University of New York at Binghamton
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Museum studies, Science history
Keywords: Anthropology of corporations, Art-science collaboration, Corning, Glass museum, Making, Materiality
Publication Number: 13861088
ISBN: 9781085576659
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