BRIDGING SCIENCE AND ARTS
Since she was young, Tania has been enthousiastic about the arts. From adolescence onwards, she learned several dance forms and took classical singing and theatre classes. During her psychology studies, she engaged as assistant director in multiple theatre and opera productions in Freiburg and Berlin. Even after leaving her initial career as theatre director to engage in a scientific career, she continued to create bridges between science and the arts, as she believes that both fields share the same source: human creativity.
A big thanks to Greg A. Dunn, a neuroscientist and artist whose neuroscientific research merges with experimental forays into painting, adapting neural forms to the principles of Asian art. Brains become natural landscapes. Four of his beautiful pictures adorn the headers of this webpage.
“I love working with Olafur Eliasson as he brings art from the studio into the street.”
My Cooperation with Olafur Eliasson
One example of science-art cooperation that has particularly enriched Tania’s work is with the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, known for his light-water-air sculptures and large-scale installation art. They first met in 2010 at the Falling Wall Conference in Berlin and have engaged in multiple cooperation projects ever since. Some of those are shown here.
Studio Olafur Eliasson, Berlin, July 2011
Workshop on “How to Train Compassion”
The first art-science cooperation between Tania and Olafur was a workshop on “How to Train Compassion” organised by Tania and her team from 20th to 23rd July 2011 in the studio of Olafur Eliasson in Berlin. Tania had invited well-known international compassion experts including neuroscientists, clinical psychologists and Buddhist monks and nuns to explore the benefits and risks of developing and scientifically investigating secular compassion-based mental training programs. As Olafur was very interested in the topics of empathy and compassion, he generously suggested to host this workshop in his beautiful atelier in Berlin.
The result was an exceptionally inspiring meeting that benefitted immensely from the creative atmosphere in which it was held, from the morning meditations in the large construction hall of the studio to the long and convivial table where lunches and dinners were shared with all, and to the light installation that enlightened the interviews made for the documentary movie “Raising Compassion” produced by Olafur and his team. At the end of this inspiring 3-day workshop, all participants developed the wish to share this precious knowledge with the wider public and make it freely available. The outcome was an artistic multi-media eBook on Compassion.
A documentary about compassion by Tómas Gislason, 2011
Movie “Raising Compassion”
One of the many fruitful outcomes of the “How to Train Compassion” workshop that was held in Studio Olafur Eliasson in 2011 was the documentary movie “Raising Compassion”. Spontaneously, a film team of Olafur decided to film conversations among some of the compassion experts invited to the workshop in the evenings after the meeting. The protagonists discussed the notions of compassion among the public, the exchange of training programs at various research centres, and experiences in the penal system or in hospitals – not least to create awareness of the relevance and potential of such programs for society and politics.
The movie was edited by Tómas Gislason and launched on 16th September 2013 in Olafur’s studio in Berlin.
Free downloadable E-Book, 2013
Compassion: Bridging Practice and Science
Another art-science cooperation with Olafur that resulted from the 2011 workshop in Berlin was a freely-downloadable eBook on Compassion: Bridging Practice and Science. This multimedia book contains not only chapters written by workshop participants, but also many videos by the authors, sound collages by Nathalie Singer and photos by Olafur Eliasson. It was published for free distribution on 16th September 2013 and was already viewed and downloaded by several thousand people around the globe in the first few months and by more than hundreds daily ever since.
This joint effort, provided pro bono by all the contributors, was compiled and edited by Tania with the help of her former lab manager Mathias Bolz and the generous support of the Max Planck Society which allowed the programming and layout of almost 900 pages of text, videos, sound collages and graphical elements.
It combines data from research with reports from practice supplemented by multimedia elements. The eBook was presented to the German press on 16th September 2013 at Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin. Several of the authors were present. The picture gallery below gives witness to the launching event.
Power and Care Conference, Brussels 2016
Solar-Powered Art Work from Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson contributed a unique installation to the Power and Care Conference conceived and co-organised by Tania Singer and Matthieu Ricard together with the Mind and Life Europe Institute in Brussels, Belgium, in September 2016. This light-sphere illuminating the conference venue was powered by the energy of the sun collected through a solar panel installed on the roof of the Palais de Beaux-Arts, Bozard, in Brussels.
Power and Care was a 3-day dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and integrated perspectives from the natural and social sciences, anthropology, psychology, politics and economics as well as multiple contemplative traditions and the arts.
For more information about the Mind and Life Institute and the Power and Care conference, click here.
In Real Life at Tate Modern, London 2019/2020
Chapter in Exhibition Catalogue “In Real Life” at the Tate
Over the years, Tania has contributed several book chapters or articles for art brochures or exhibition catalogues. One example of this is a chapter in Olafur’s exhibition catalogue that was launched on 11th July 2019. This book was created as part of Olafur’s recent large exhibition “In Real Life” at the Tate Modern in London. It offers a series of short dialogues with people working both inside and outside the arts – from anthropology and economics, political science and biology, architecture and urban design, dance, music and food. Tania contributed a chapter on compassion.
SAM in Strassbourg, 2019
Art and Science Events
Tania has participated many times in art-science panels at conferences or festivals. One example is the conference “Science, Art and Meditation” in Strasbourg in 2019, where over an entire day scientists, artists and meditation experts engaged in multidisciplinary dialogues and experiences.
Travels across the World
Tania’s Passion for Photography
Friends call Tania a gipsy, as she is always on the road. She loves exploring other cultures and has travelled the world since she was young, firstly on holidays with her twin sister, family and friends, and later through her international work which brought her to visit almost every continent. Tania loves photography and has used it to make picture books from some of her travels. In this small picture gallery, a few pictures from her trips to Bhutan, Argentina, Venice, Peru, Iceland and Cuba are exhibited.