The Department of Search-Barn

Since September 2016, the Department of Search has been using its own open-air faculty building, a public platform where participating artists present their search questions, organise meetings, and communicate with the Utrecht Science Park audience. The Department of Search wants to be at the Utrecht Science Park permanently and has the ambition to initiate new art projects after and on the basis of the results of Zero Footprint Campus. A permanent institute that links the artists’ searching capability to scientific practice in the search for a sustainable society is unique and may provide a major contribution to addressing one of the biggest challenges of our time. 

Department of Search offers artists and scientists room for research in its most original form. The focus is not on Research but on Search. Gathering knowledge for the sake of having knowledge is no longer essential. What matters is that all knowledge is used to cope with complex problems of the future. The proper questions need to be asked, so that various disciplines cooperate, for the challenges ahead are beyond specialist solutions. Climate change affects everyone and can only be curbed if we collaborate more. But how can we do this?

This calls for a different way of doing research. Not just narrowing the question down to render research verifiable, but also asking the broader questions in the collective interest. Approaches in the complexity of possibilities may lead to solutions, so it is these approaches that need to be found. The Department of Search looks for ways to bring about this new way of searching. The new artist department took a first step by introducing the ‘artist method’ at the Utrecht Science Park. Artists are used to asking original questions, and they use the imagination to gain new insights. In June 2017, when the Department of Search opens its doors, you can see how the artist method and the scientific search method meet.

The first major project of the Department of Search is Zero Footprint Campus. Twelve artists have done artistic research into the possibilities and impossibilities of Zero Footprint Campus for one year. To what extent is this area, with its users (researchers, students, canteen staff, security staff), suitable for creating new works of art? How can this work contribute to and shed some light on our search for a sustainable society? Through intensive collaboration with experts from the university of applied sciences, the university, and other institutions and knowledge institutions, artists can use the Science Park as a scientific search engine.

The searches will be presented from 1 June up till and including 24 June with guided tours, lunches, lectures, debates and workshops.


Foto: Aafke Holwerda


Foto: Aafke Holwerda

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Department of Search

The initiative of the Department of Search was taken by the Aardschap Foundation and the municipality of Utrecht in collaboration with the Utrecht Science Park Foundation and Universitity Utrecht. The Zero Footprint Campus programme is also made possible by The Art of Impact, Mondriaan Fonds, provincie Utrecht, K.F. Hein Fonds, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds and Stichting Doen.

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