Visibility, creativity, and collective working practices in art and science

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(2021) 11:5

PAPER IN HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

Visibility, creativity, and collective working practices in art and science Claire Anscomb 1 Received: 26 November 2019 / Accepted: 11 September 2020/ # Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Abstract Visual artists and scientists frequently employ the labour of assistants and technicians, however these workers generally receive little recognition for their contribution to the production of artistic and scientific work. They are effectively “invisible”. This invisible status however, comes at the cost of a better understanding of artistic and scientific work, and improvements in artistic and scientific practice. To enhance understanding of artistic and scientific work, and these practices more broadly, it is vital to discern the nature of an assistant or technician’s contribution to the production of a work, which is difficult as it is uncommon to discuss these workers. To address this, I investigate how different kinds of parallel working arrangements in collective artistic and scientific practices affect the creative potential of individuals involved. Different working arrangements permit different degrees of autonomy for individuals involved in these practices. Significantly, a lack of autonomy precludes the opportunity to act spontaneously and so exercise, what I term, “creative agency”. Evaluating the contribution of an assistant or technician based on the degree of autonomy that they are granted in the production of a work is an approach that I show can be used to precisely determine the nature of their contribution to the production of a work and accordingly, what kind of recognition an agent should receive for this. Importantly, this approach has the advantage of explaining the artistic and epistemic significance of different kinds of contribution to the production of artistic and scientific work. Keywords Artistic value . Epistemic value . Creativity . Collective working . Agency .

Autonomy

This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Creativity in Art, Science & Mind Guest Editors: Adrian Currie, Anton Killin

* Claire Anscomb [email protected]

1

School of Arts, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

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European Journal for Philosophy of Science

(2021) 11:5

1 Introduction

…the popular idea that the creative industries are populated by capricious artists, who use their ‘natural’ creativity to configure new commodities out of thin air and magic, disclaims how original commodity production tends to operate through a more socially embedded production model where artists work in conjunction with craft workers […] to produce something new. (Banks 2010b, 310) [Scientists] needed the creative ability to sort through scientific ideas and produce experiments that would be interesting to the field. A scientist could do what an operatory did, but not the other way around. (Doing 2004, 310) There are many differences between the ways that artists and scientists produce their works. Yet, there are some commonalities, including how labour is divide