How to strengthen yourself together during an epidemic?

The art and science are directly affected by the epidemic we are going through. On the arts side, the closure of cultural sites increases the resentment of cultural professionals and forces them to reinvigorate themselves. Severely affected by health restrictions, museums are trying to invest in digital technology to envision new ways of meeting the public. Some are banking on virtual tours, while others are scheduling events online or joining podcasting.

On the science side, scientists are placed in front of the stage through an expert’s figure urging them to inform the government’s decisions. Nevertheless, researchers’ discourse are overcome by disagreements for the production of scientific facts. The media coverage of disagreement among scientists arouses the general public’s senselessness and even its skepticism.

Culture and science professionals face common issues in these times of health crisis: how to rethink the link with the public? Why and how (R) establish direct contact with civil society? The MacSUP project is an encouraging effort to move forward in these reflections.

A research project

Started by the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon in 2017, macSUP is an annual research-making project at universities. It brings artists, teacher-researchers and students together in various disciplines ranging from physics and biology to philosophy and management. Each partner gathers knowledge and skills specific to its field to contribute to collective building. After six months of work, the fruits of this collective creation are returned to the public. In previous years, the restoration of the individual in contemporary art took place in the museum in Lyon or outside the walls.

This year, from October 2020 to March 2021 the epidemic occurred amidst the epidemic. The health context addressed participants directly or indirectly about what a health crisis does to the work of an artist and researcher. Many avenues have emerged to revive the link between arts and research professionals on the one hand, and the public on the other.

Pushing the norm of openness

Half of the participants saw the entanglement of places to live and work during the period of imprisonment. They formed CREPIS (Center for Poetic Research and Experimentation for Sustainable Interiors) to explore in a sensitive, physical and intellectual way what our interiors have revealed, which have become multidimensional and continuous with television. Members of CREPIS have created GRIGRI, a math-based collaborative tool that offers solutions to the thorny questions created by our limited insiders.

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Reflections from creepis created by artist Mathilde Chenanen on the methods of storage of our limited interiors.
François Lornadoni, Author provided

GRIGRI takes an opposite approach to the science of happiness and its tools such as emotion management and personal development. While some see these devices as getting closer to Stokism, to get to know themselves better, others see them as injunctions to handle themselves, with Eva Iloz serving on the basis of “Happiness” Huh. Instead of advising happiness to be the ultimate value and to achieve it, Creeps members promote poetry, mischief and critical thinking through GRIGRI and provide genuine false advice for free. On March 27, the day macSUP was released to the public, visitors were able to manipulate GRIGRI and then discuss Discord (free instant messaging software) with members of CREPIS.

Advice given by GRIGRI.
François Lornadoni, Author provided

Using an artistic approach it has become possible to gravitate towards the ideal of open science. Three links in the research process are concerned. First, the use of a free Discord tool from Gaming for work meetings and feedback. But also the inauguration of the research protocol through restorations to the public, during which the approach was shared freely. And finally, the free online publication of GRIGRI (https://crepis.org/#solutions) has made the research results accessible to all.

If the ideal of a fully open science is still far from being achieved despite a particularly pressing context, the macSUP project is working to give it an approach.

Rejuvenate yourself through drama

The other half of MacSUP participants viewed the game and how it helps to revive the framework for social interaction. With the massive changes in online courses and conferences, the world of teaching and research has been particularly shaken. Unexpected events in the domestic sector and technical problems have made it difficult to deliver courses or academic presentations in a tightly tailored manner. It is in this context that participants of macSUP have developed a role-playing game to perform in a virtual environment.

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The aim of the game is to teach the audience a lesson in a turbulent situation. Four roles are defined:

  • The teacher collectively corrects a lesson on a chosen topic (eg: motor, water, pizza);

  • The troublemaker breaks the lesson by telling the teacher an obstacle (for example: start each sentence with “said Nietzsche”, explain it as a recipe, mimic the lesson);

  • Learners listen to the lesson;

  • The game master assigns each player a role and ensures that each player has taken on all roles by the end of the game.

An early version of the game created by macSUP participants in collaboration with artist Chloe Serre.
Davy Carroll., Author provided

During the restoration on 27 March, the public was able to participate in the game like its designers.

This is not the first time that researchers have used games, as demonstrated by the increasing use of serious games in the production of scientific knowledge. But here, the game is mobilized differently to rethink the framework in which knowledge is transmitted. The first step is to reverse the passive / active dynamic. Thanks to the role of a troubleshooter, teacher-researchers want to temporarily suffer the messes that affect their online interventions, which interfere with disturbing others (with joy).

It is also an opportunity to circumvent the rule. By integrating disturbances in the rules of the game, overflow becomes an integral part of the negotiation framework and becomes normal.

In the end, the game helps arouse sympathy. For the students participating in the game, playing the role of a teacher makes them aware of the difficulties inherent in distance education. For teacher-researchers, taking on the role of the public makes it possible to understand the difficulties posed by careful monitoring of a distance course.

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Towards more direct and free links?

macSUP is a collective experience that helps to revive the link that unites culture and science professionals on the one hand, and the public on the other. The forced recourse to intermediation of technologies in times of health crises provided an opportunity to establish closer ties with the public. With restitution, scientists addressed neither the general public nor political actors directly, without the mediation of scientific editors. For artists, they met the public in a virtual space, a digital equivalent of the movement of physical possession of cultural spaces.

macSUP has also made it possible to imagine an independent link with the public to remove two barriers to the opening of science: the prohibition of publishing original and exclusive works in excellent academic journals, and secrecy due to partnerships with producers Responsibility . GRIGRI and sports are open to spread poetry, mischief, humor and empathy in the society. However, this initiative is not self-evident in a context where the historical decline in museum presence has significantly reduced its own revenue. Therefore macSUP is an opportunity for cultural institutions to rethink their economic models and reflect their mission: how to ensure that citizens have access to artistic construction, while substantially surpassing all actors involved? It is by solving this equation that art and science can work for the common good.


macSup is a project that brings together the Musée d’art Contemporane de Leon, Université Claude Claude Boonon 1, Université Jean Jean Moulin Lyon 3, INSA Leon, Econon Normadale Supérieure de Leon, Emilon Business School, Ecole National Fine Arts Project. Lyon’s – amateur artistic practices. Artists Mathilde Chenanen and Chloe Serre hosted the 2020/2021 edition, with The MacSap program benefiting from the support of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region and DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alps.

The first restoration to the public took place on March 27, 2021. The second restoration will take place in September 2021. Meanwhile, GRIGRI is still available on the Creepis site.

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About the Author: Abbott Hopkins

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